Innovation is about uncertainty and nonstandard processes, so why is it that management literature and advice still deals in certainties? Because the traditional tools of business planning have not caught up with the new kind of problems that managers and innovators face. Below, in an extract from their new book The Innovator’s Method: Bringing the Lean Startup into Your Organization, authors Nathan Furr and Jeff Dyer introduce methods and tools made for the uncertainty – and the brilliance – of innovation.
New perspectives and tools for managing uncertainty are emerging in many disparate fields. Whether you call it lean start-up, design thinking, or agile software development, a new method is revolutionizing the way managers successfully create, refine, and bring new ideas to market without traditional business planning. These and other tools help entrepreneurs, designers, and software developers manage uncertainty through cheap and rapid iteration to systematically lower uncertainty and risk.
But many managers have difficulty applying these tools in the corporate environment, because they run counter to traditional managerial thinking and practice. To help managers apply and adapt these new practices inside established companies, we offer a synthesis of the emerging perspectives.
Our work presents a unified framework for managers, showing them when and how to apply the new approach to innovation in their organizations. The framework is based on our research inside corporations and start-ups that have effectively implemented these practices. The result is a new method for managing innovation that we call the innovator’s method: an end-to-end process for creating, refining, and bringing ideas to market.
We focus on the “how” — how to test, validate, and commercialize ideas using the best tools from lean start-up, design thinking, agile software, and similar techniques used by a few corporations and most successful start-ups. These tools can be applied to create new innovations or solve internal problems that have an element of uncertainty, whether in HR, finance, or another area. In other words, the innovator’s method can work for anyone with a complex problem to solve, not just for innovation teams.
Let’s start with a story.