Gerry came across Agile while working as a project manager in a construction company. Motivated by his drive to provide a great service to his customers, he started to study how to make his own business more adaptable and Agile.
Working with new technologies, he started to improve certain aspects of his business. However, he quickly realized that the size of the projects and demands of the customers were making what once was an “easy” to manage service, into a complicated service with many moving parts.
The use of computers helped manage that complexity, but also brought even more complexity. This was when Gerry discovered Agile and what it could bring to a non-IT business.
Innovation is a topic that gets a lot of attention. There are innovation processes, specific creative games for teams to work with to seek innovative ideas. There’s the Lean Startup movement that tries to codify innovation-friendly processes, and there’s also the UX community pushing the argument that we need more innovation in software companies.
You’ve probably heard the same argument at work. We need to be more innovative to be competitive. Great! But how?
In this episode, we explore how leaders can set up their organizations for innovation. Ryan Jacoby helps us explore the how of that critical question: how can we be more innovative?
The first action you, and your organization need to take
Ryan describes an approach that aims to focus on the team and organization on the customer needs. His approach is simple and immediately actionable. First start by jotting down in plain language and from the point-of-view of the user/customer: what problems are you trying to solve for that customer? Select the top 3.
The other dimension of innovation is your organization’s goals. Define what it means to meaningfully grow the impact of the organization over 6 to 18 months. This growth could be in the number of customers, revenue growth, profit, etc.
Now you have the start of a growth strategy that is centered on customer needs and also directly linked to the company’s/organization’s growth. Next, we talk about innovation in practice.
The 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader
When it comes to putting innovation in practice, Ryan argues that there are 7 areas to take into account.
Define progress for your organization, in other words: what is the impact you seek and the growth in that impact factor
Set an innovation agenda by prioritizing the innovation problems to solve, user and customer groups you want to serve, nature type of innovation to pursue.
Create support teams that build the product
Cultivate the ingredients for success for innovation
Giving great feedback to teams: prepare and setup the feedback moments so that teams can learn quickly.
Reward progress (as defined in #1)
Ryan explains how he came to value these 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader by telling us his own story when he was responsible to help the New York Times grow their impact through innovative solutions.
Ryan’s book: lessons learned about each of the 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader
Ryan Jacoby, is the founder of MACHINE, a strategy, and innovation company that helps its clients Think Big and Act Small.
MACHINE clients over the years have included people responsible for growth and innovation at The New York Times, Marriott, Viacom, Etsy, Google, Nike, The Washington Post, Feeding America, Fresh Direct, NBC Universal, and The Knight Foundation.
Prior to founding MACHINE, Ryan led teams and relationships at the design and innovation firm IDEO. He was a founding member and location head of the IDEO New York office and built the Business Design discipline at the firm.
Ryan is also the author of the book named “Making Progress” with Sense and Respond press. A book he describes as “a tactical guide for you, the person charged with leading innovation”
Tom and Mary Poppendieck have authored several books over the years about what needs to change in how we develop software to be able to meet the demands of the market, competition, and the growth in complexity of technology businesses. A recurring pattern they have witnessed is that people keep trying to discover a “silver bullet”. We explore why that is a bad idea and some of the changes in product development that make it an impossible quest.
Read on for the details, and all the links shared during the show.