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Scheduled Innovation

| On 05, Oct 2007

Praveen Gupta

In a recent discussion at an innovation conference, someone made a point that scheduled innovation is a contradiction. Innovation is considered to be unpredictable due to uncertain amount of time involved, or the product development cycle.


We have seen two ways in which innovative products are introduced. One offers a totally disruptive, significantly innovative, and new capability. These innovative solutions are more technology or development driven that need to be sold to users. For example, iPod® or iPhone® are two technology driven innovations that were offered to consumers, and they loved it. There are many more innovations that were offered to consumers and did not fly such as digital dashboards in cars, or New Coke. The success rate of technology driven innovative offering is about 4-5%.


Other way to introduce innovative products or solutions is to identify opportunities, and offer innovative solutions fast. The opportunity could be new energy solutions, new features for phone, search engine, computer, container, toys, or appliance. This is where one needs be an opportunist in order to exploit the demand for innovation. How do we identify such opportunities? We need to be aware of pain or contradiction in society, and its magnitude to decide whether to pursue an opportunity or not. Depending upon the opportunity one can determine whether the required innovative solution is of Fundamental (conceptual), Platform (new system), Derivative (multiple options of the new system) or Variation (new applications) type in nature. Given the domain expertise, and networked resources one can determine how long it will take to innovate a solution. While fundamental and platform type of innovations take months to years, derivative or variation type of innovative solutions can be developed from on-demand to weeks. .The success rate of such innovative offering tends to be much higher as they are developed in response to customer needs. Customizing innovative solutions on demand are examples of scheduled innovations. Even customers are part of the innovation process.


In the information age, the need for solutions on demand, or scheduled innovation will continue to grow. In the open innovation environment, networked world, and knowledge economy innovation is occurring continually somewhere, and can be offered to the consumer and customer anywhere. Customers or consumers will become more impatient with suppliers for innovative solutions to their pain points or contradictions they face. This shall continue to increase the demand for scheduled innovation. And, speed of innovation will become a competitive advantage rather than innovation itself.


I believe we need to learn to innovate on demand, and offer innovative solutions to customers’ schedule. What do you think about scheduled innovation? Can we schedule innovation?