Agility means saying “Yes” to more…

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky

In Google’s latest founder’s letter they restated their founding mission back in ’98 — “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Without a doubt this one of the most powerful benefits of the Internet (and search) and that it drives ubiquitous access to much of the world’s research.

In tandem, the evolution of cloud computing has driven ubiquitous access to inexpensive computing capacity (IaaS) and, most recently with PaaS, accelerated development of new applications and services. Essentially we have created an amazing opportunity for smart minds around the world to extend their knowledge base, seek out new market opportunities and build out their ideas with minimal financial risk. Essentially innovation is effectively moving towards and even playing field regardless of where you are in the world or your financial situation. What an amazing time to be alive; the world’s  largest transportation company owns no vehicles, the largest hospitality company doesn’t own a single hotel and the fastest growing automobile company produces engines that don’t even accept fossil fuels!

I think it was Klaus Schwab who  best at the World Economic Forum – “It’s no longer the big fish who eats the small fish; it’s the fast fish who eats the slow fish”. Moving forward agility becomes the most important lever in determining an organization’s ability to innovate, fail fast and iterate it’s way to future prosperity.

The challenge in the minds of most enterprises is defining and measuring agility. I like to call this phenomenon building a culture of “Saying Yes to More”.  Leveraging some of my learnings from O’Reilly’s “The Lean Enterprise” and my own personal experience Ild like to propose a working model for reflection –

Set the Baseline – LOOK AROUND

  • Think about how many net-new initiatives  your organization can support in a given year?
  • Assess your success rate over the last few years (What % of projects have net new initiatives have been successful?)
  • Think about what the impact would be to your profits, valuation and customer satisfaction if you could drive 2-3X more innovation in a given year?

Think about your Innovation agenda

  • Look at the funding process for innovation
    • How are projects nominated per year?
    • How many projects are approved year?
    • Who determines their suitability?
    • What factors are part of the process?
    • What is the funding schedule? Timelines / Tranches?
  • Examine the barriers
    • How many projects were rejected last year?
    • Why were they rejected?
    • What 3 barriers were cited most often as reasons for rejection?
  • Examine the measurement and reporting process for innovation
    • What metrics are captured and how often are they captured?
    • What is the process for ensuring the metrics are accurate?
    • What is the process for setting the bar for success?
    • What timelines are in place for a “Go-No/Go” steering committee?
  • Org Structure, Compensation and Accountability
    • Who within the organizational structure holds the innovation mandate?
    • How are they remunerated in regards to innovation (Projects, Revenue Growth…)?
    • How are others recognized for their contribution to Innovation?
    • Do you have a formalized “incubation” process in place for innovative growth projects?
    • At what point does a new initiative graduate to an “enterprise system” and what is the organizational structure in place to support it?

Brainstorming these questions will help you to understand your current state as it relates to Innovation and help you set some priorities to better foster it moving forward.

Ultimately – the amount of shots we take will determine the number of scoring opportunities we have and in turn the amount of goals we score. Put in a baseball context the end goal is to “Say Yes to More” essentially get more at bats thereby allowing you to hit more home runs without increasing your batting average!baseball-680079_1280


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