The real breakthrough in product innovation is not the technology or great user centred designed, but the changing of corporate mindsets to be more patient and long term focused.
At our innovation agency (WWC), we have to find ways to prepare our clients for breakthrough innovation and help them to understand what it means if they really want to do it.
So how do we get them ready?
We need to tell them and make sure they understand that the biggest reality breakthrough product innovation brings is…
“It takes TIME and they need to be PATIENT.”
You are probably already thinking how that client conversation will go!!
Look, I’m not saying it should take ages to get a prototype done or for user acceptance testing to start. What I’m saying is you won’t get it right first time, or the second or the third. It takes time.
In some cases incremental innovation can often help justify progress in the short-term, even if the longer-term benefits are reduced, but ideally what we need to do is eliminate the pressure for short-term results.
To do this performance cannot be judged and measured in the same way as you measure other new products you may take to market.
So what metrics could you use to validate along the way?
- Engagement metrics. The daily active users divided by the monthly active users. The industry benchmark is 24% (every 4 days). So even at a small scale you can see how committed the audience is.
- Start, Fail, Complete. Set milestones and see how far the user goes into the experience. Where do they stop? This helps you to focus on where you need to focus your time and make the improvements on the things that really matter.
- The K-Factor, used for measuring the virality of a product. Virality = (Invites sent by each customer) multiplied by the (conversion percentage rate of each invite). If you get a number higher than 1, you have a viral application
These engagement metrics help you to decide if a user base is growing organically or if the product and marketing needs re-thinking.
This willingness for an organisation to allow you to try, fail, learn quickly from the failures and adjust require patience. And that patient approach has to have commitment from the top down. The C-Suite need to be comfortable with the processes and failures breakthrough innovation requires in order to succeed.
They need to be willing to give over autonomy and leave it to the team or product champion to run with, without continual justification or censoring. If the product team is always trying to please the stakeholders against the usual metrics, innovation will not thrive.
So remember, the real breakthrough in product innovation is not the technology or the idea, but the changing of corporate mindsets to be more patient and long term focused.
It’s not about tactics, it’s about not stifling the initiative before it even starts.
Mike Perk is Managing Director of WWC and a founding partner in Heavy Chef, an inspiration platform for innovators and leaders. He focuses his time on helping Digital Transformation through Digital Product Innovation and Change Management through coaching, facilitator & doing.