Innovation - "Transmissions"

The Itch of Innovation

A proof of concept ignites innovation by exploring unproven ideas and new techniques in a managed creative, low cost, time effective way.

How does innovation happen?  Is a problem a pre-requisite for innovation?

At it’s most basic level, all it requires is a concept to focus upon. Innovation genesis does not require a ‘problem’ nor does it require a ‘eureka’ moment. In short, you can drive innovation through proof of concepts.  Opportunities to innovate are plentiful.

A proof of concept project ignites innovation by exploring unproven ideas and new techniques in a managed creative, low cost, time effective way.

At it’s most simplest: 3 people – 3 months – $30k. Focus solely on the concept. Forget security. Forget firewalls. Forget QA etc. What is delivered is a bare-knuckled prototype which demonstrates how it could solve the issues your client deals with.

By placing people in a deliberate environment of trust without real-world constraints other than limited resource, timelines and lightweight project management, a PoC nurtures innovative creative solutions. It’s a practical process designed to:

  • discover and focus on the core of what and how to innovate.
  • a vehicle for embracing risk
  • an environment that creates space in work for play. So out of 10 PoC’s expect 6 to fail, 2 be strong and 1 to be just amazing.

How do you run a PoC?

Get 3-5 people (part time), $30K and 3 months (part time) and allow people to meet regularly.  It’s needs to be a very simple process.  If processes are becoming complex or bogged down in detail the team needs to reassess what’s important to answer the ‘itch’.  Start with defining the itch of innovation and set some goals.  From there it’s an iterative process of brain storming, creating, demonstrating and then reflecting.

Proof of Concept process cycle
Proof of Concept process cycle

1. Defining the itch:

  • What concept needs solving?  Often asking “what’s hard about x?” reveals what really needs to be done.

2. Goal Setting:

  • What is the problem to be solved?

3. Brain Storming:

  • Take the goal and any reflections and as a team brain storm a plan for the coming cycle.

4. Create:

  • Paper Prototype / Mock up
  • Basic Interface / Placeholders
  • Basic prototype / smoke and mirrors functionality

5. Show and Tell:

  • Concluding each POC month is a ‘Show and Tell’ to an audience of sponsors, users and internal teams – each one being more public than the last.

6. Reflect:

  • what we did?
  • how we did it?
  • the issues people raised?
  • what we did well?
  • did we prove the concept?
  • what could have done better?

What are the Project Outcomes?

Can anything of value come out of something so removed from reality? Lots! These are just a few:

  • Project Outcomes:
    • Innovation: new ideas and new approaches from more directed conceptual thinking.
    • Better starting position – lessons learned improves the starting position of derivative project.
    • Better position to ask really pointed questions and address issues such as accessibility, security, privacy and quality.
    • Agile in response to ideas and feedback particulrly with shorter feedback times
  • People Outcomes
    • Invigorating creativity amongst participants
    • Development of new skills
    • The discussions held
  • Organisational Outcomes
    • Lower financial risk as the POC compared to the risk of a rigorously produced project failing.
    • Marketing opportunity: showing possibly how to addressing real issues in a real way.

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