Managing Innovations based on Delivery Time Frames

12 Apr 2017 Sandeep Mehta

Source: Venture Beat
I have meaning to write about the article in Venture Beat Making corporate innovation work. It categorizes innovations based on time horizons and suggests that management processes be modified based the category:

* Horizon 1 activities support existing business models.
* Horizon 2 is focused on extending existing businesses with partially known business models
* Horizon 3 is focused on unknown business models.

It is important to keep in mind that these time horizons are being described at project start. The actual completion time changes with development progresses or resource allocation. For example, a Horizon 3 project that was started 5 years ago will be near completion now and may even be considered a Horizon 1 project. So, management and application of processes needs to change as the project progresses.

Another approach is to categorize R&D efforts based on delivery time frame. Since time frame is continuous, it is useful to divide it into a discrete bins: For example, near-term projects (1-2 years delivery), mid-term projects (3-4 years delivery), and long-term projects (5 years+ delivery). These bins may be different based on development cycles in each organization.

Within each delivery time frame, there are different types of projects: Technology Development, Product Development, Manufacturing Process Development etc. Within each type of project, there are different development cycles (long or short). For example, a product-line enhancement project may have a shorter development cycle compared to a product platform development project. Each of these types of projects may be in different stages of their development cycles and may have been started at different times. Hence, R&D management processes need to be flexible to be applicable to all types of projects with varied development cycles.

Different types of projects may have different objectives for completion. For example, objectives of a sustaining engineering project improving manufacturability of a product are quite different from a new technology innovation development project. Depending on the objectives, organizations will need to follow different processes to complete projects.

Projects close to completion generally have the most visibility and are candidates for more disciplined processes. Projects with large investments also may be candidates for more disciplined processes as they have large teams that need to be coordinated. New projects that have long development cycle ahead of them generally have too much uncertainty to compute metrics and too many processes may inhibit innovation. To ensure efficiency, effective processes and their enforcement needs to be flexible to apply to all types of R&D efforts across all delivery time frames. InspiRD tools can definitely help…

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