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Improving Innovation Decision Making

By David Matheson posted 10-16-2023 17:57

Improving Innovation Decision Making

Read Time: 2 Minutes

When asked “How would you know a good decision if you saw one”, audience members at PDMA’s Inspire Innovation conference September 18, 2023 in New Orleans said things like “Alignment with goal and vision” and “Aligned with expectations” and “True alignment (not just superficial agreement)” – are you getting a theme?  Many people had breakthroughs: getting commitment was the part of a good decision and the result of a process that could be engineered!  Many also realized that their current process framework (Phase Gate) wasn’t set up to deliver good decisions, resulting in frustration in this area, and were inspired that there might be a better way.

Decision Professionals can really help.  While innovation has some unique issues, their problems are very similar to things we all know well.  Are 25% of innovation decisions headed off the rails?  The Society of Decision Professionals (SDP) ran a workshop on Decision Making and Innovation as part of an alliance between SDP and PDMA at the Inspire innovation Conference.  When participants rated Phase Gate Decisions using SDP’s Decision Complexity Card, very few were simple choices – a full 77% where complex enough to warrant considering a special decision process, and 25% being complex enough to warrant help from a decision professional.  Maybe that is why the majority of participants said that important “go/no go” decisions were made outside the context of their gate meetings!

The joint PDMA-SDP interest group in Innovation Decisions “iigy” is initiating a project to make some progress on this important issue. Consider joining this effort.


David Matheson

David Matheson is CEO and cofounder of SmartOrg, Inc. With decades of experience, he has helped senior management in firms around the world improve their results from portfolio management, product development, innovation and R & D. He’s known for finding simple answers to some of the most complicated strategic business issues and is an expert at measuring value and managing uncertainty.

Wayne Fisher PhD

Wayne Fisher PhD, founded Rockdale Innovation after spending 27 years as an R&D manager at Procter & Gamble. While at P&G, Wayne created a series of popular innovation workshops for all phases of new product development. He has trained thousands of managers, providing a common language and framework for innovation, fostering collaboration across P&&G's diverse business units. He served as a full-time innovation consultant and Creative Problem Solving facilitator at The GYM, an IDEO-inspired design studio that remains a key enabler of P&&'s innovation capability. Rockdale Innovation guides have successfully reapplied these innovation best practices across diverse industries including consumer products, business-to-business, manufacturing, transportation, and healthcare. Wayne is a sought after trainer, speaker, and writer on the topic of innovation best practices, including the chapter, "Applying the Creative Problem Solving Process to Open Innovation", published by Oxford University Press. Wayne is also active in the Product Development and Management Association, where he serves on the Board of Directors and the Outstanding Corporate Innovator award selection committee. Wayne received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, and has been granted 18 US patents."

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