five failure points of a measurement strategy 1

Innovation starts with a good foundation

This content was originally featured in the August 30, 2023 newsletter found here:

When I worked at the other company a million years ago, the leadership team relied on the staff to help come up with new ideas. They formed an “innovation committee.” The purpose of the committee was to generate new ideas for our research scientists and product owners.

If this sounds familiar, it should be – I wrote about innovation a few weeks ago:

What I didn’t talk about is the foundation of innovation. If you regularly read this newsletter or talk to me for 10 minutes, you know I always fall back on the 5P Framework. Today I’m putting together talks for some upcoming events and outlining guest articles. In each piece of content, the foundation is the 5P Framework.

As a reminder, the 5Ps are Purpose, People, Process, Platform, and Performance.

When I write about the 5P Framework, I start to worry that I’m a one-trick pony. I wonder if I have nothing original to say. I become concerned that my perspective is flat and unhelpful.

And then I recall sitting in on that innovation committee, week after week, without generating any innovative ideas. The problem was that leadership thought that innovation meant something net new. Many times, the group would suggest a twist on an existing problem. Leadership would shoot it down because it wasn’t “innovative”. To them, if it was a riff on something that we already know of, it wasn’t innovative. Because of that thinking, we’d spend (waste) our time trying to come up with new problems to solve. It was the exact wrong approach to innovation.

When I was in graduate school, we studied IDEO. This company was on the cutting edge of innovative solutions. They would observe regular people doing everyday tasks and find areas where they struggled or could improve their process. What always stuck with me is that they would take known problems and find new solutions. They call it “design thinking”. I suggested this research technique to my leadership team and they openly mocked me. Needless to say, their well of ideas dried up pretty quickly after that.

I always go back to the 5P Framework. I’ve been using this framework to talk through complex topics and to find new solutions to the same old problems. I’m trying to stretch and bend the framework to solve all kinds of problems. It is not just for requirements gathering. The 5P Framework is a communication tool. The framework aims to simplify difficult topics into manageable parts and create a complete solution.

Generative AI is a great example of what’s innovative. At its core, generative AI is solving problems that we’ve struggled with for years. The innovations are the solutions, not that we’re finding new problems to solve.

Innovation doesn’t have to be big and flashy to be effective. Small, thoughtful changes can have a big impact.

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