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  • 1.  Pandemic Lessons Learned about Accelerating Innovation

    Posted 04-06-2021 09:34

    I recently came across the article, Accelerating Innovation: Some lessons from the Pandemic, written by Robert G. Cooper. In the article, Cooper outlines the following five approaches to accelerate development:

    1. Focused Project Teams: Often teams are spread too thin between multiple projects. Core teams should dedicate 60-70% of their time to a particular project.
    2. Fewer Projects, Better Projects: Force management teams to rank projects from 1 to N. Projects ranked higher on the list should receive more resources.
    3. Digital Tools to Accelerate Knowledge Generation: Digital tools can help assist with the speed of a project. Examples of common tools used include 3D printers, simulations, virtual and augmented realities, and artificial intelligence.
    4. Lean Development: To remove waste from a project timeline, leads should consider deleting unnecessary tasks, constantly view tasks and ensure they are a value add.
    5. Agile Development: In the article, Cooper notes an agile development team is made up of individuals who are co-located physically and 100% dedicated.


    What are some of the lessons you learned about accelerating innovation during the pandemic?


    Cooper, R.G. (2021), Accelerating innovation: some lessons from the pandemic. J Prod Innov Manag. Accepted Author Manuscript.

    Megan Campbell
    MBA Candidate
    Oakland University

    Megan Campbell
    Oakland University

  • 2.  RE: Pandemic Lessons Learned about Accelerating Innovation

    Posted 04-12-2021 20:46
    Hello Megan,

    I found this article very interesting. I think the pandemic has forced everyone to reanalyze how they focus their product efforts, and potentially broken down some very long term bad habits. I found the part of the article about ranking the projects for importance very interesting. As I am sure you know, a lot of companies over promise and under perform and are confused why they are doing so. I don't think top management in many companies understand what their workforce can achieve versus the amount of time they are asking of them. I really like the model they pointed out about not only ranking projects by NPV, but by NPV/Persons required to complete or NPV/Days to complete. I think there are many situations that a people see a favorable return assigned to a project, but don't take into account that potentially a "less favorable" NPV business case actually would take half the time or half the people to achieve. Therefore being something we should prioritize.

    I think this is a lesson companies who haven't realized it yet will very quickly. Many laid off contract workers who helped to carry a significant workload in their companies, but there has been no decrease in the amount of projects or expectations. This burden can be carried for a time by overworking your people. But without a re-evaluation of product priority it cannot be successful for long.

    -Rachel Eaton

    Rachel Eaton
    Oakland University

  • 3.  RE: Pandemic Lessons Learned about Accelerating Innovation

    Posted 04-13-2021 08:25
    Hi Megan,

    Thank you for posting the article. Most every client struggles with prioritization. I can't speak to every company, but this seems like a common problem and is only getting more frustrating and complex as the pace of change accelerates. I used to rely upon NPV where value is the transactional concern and is typically built up using predictive models of savings (reduced costs) for internal products or purchasing behaviors of customers (revenue and/or margins). Both are financial measures and have proven inconsistent and time-consuming for teams to develop. Due to the sheer number of initiatives that get loaded into the intake queue, it is not feasible for teams to build up NPVs with any reliability for all initiatives. This is a problem of scale and data accuracy. I have introduced a different approach in a few organizations using a 3-tier value-driven prioritization model to provide scale across waterfall & Agile initiatives. This requires a bit more setup with upstream investment but provides fluid prioritization to accommodate changing priorities that span across the demand management (intake) through lifecycle management. It also provides a foundation for guiding innovation, framing LEAN, and developing business cases for larger investments. 

    - Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Wallk
    Management Consultant
    The Value Enablement Group, LLC
    Deerfield IL