16 Sep Step#6: Check – validate the viability
How do you know that your innovation plan makes sense? The first five steps of the Cycle of Innovation were about gathering information and developing a plan. Now it’s time to see if your plan is feasible and to discover if you can convince your major stakeholders. Do they share your need to change, do they agree upon the future role and do they understand your plan? If you pass this test your plan is final and you are ready to execute. Without validating your plan at fore hand you risk building on false hypotheses and you probably will be unaware of critical conditions that you need to meet to be successful innovating within your eco-system.
Validating the hypotheses
Checking the viability of your plan consists of two elements, which can be done parallel. The first element deals with checking the main assumptions you made in Step#5 developing your plan. These hypotheses can be for instance the availability of the necessary resources internally, but also the willingness of customers to pay for future services or the compliancy with local regulations. Pick the three or four most important hypotheses of the list from Step#5. Think of a smart way in which each hypothesis can be proven to be true or false. Leanstartup and Google’s Sprintbook techniques can be very helpful in this stage to quickly provide you with reliable insights. By validating hypotheses your plan grows stronger and the leap of faith is getting smaller.
Checking the stakeholders
Next to checking your main assumptions you need to find out how your eco-system will respond to your plan. Can you convince the major stakeholders, like your most important customers, your shareholders, the unions and your preferred suppliers? What do they think of the plan? Do they agree upon the fundament of your plan (the why, the what, the how)? Under what conditions would they go along? And what do they think of underlying hypotheses? By checking with a handful of representatives of the different groups of stakeholders you will get a clear notion of how the eco-system will react to your plan.
The feedback of your stakeholders together with the outcome of the investigations of hypotheses might force you to adjust your plan. In case the fundament for your plan needs refinement you need to go back to the relevant step of the Cycle of Innovation and proceed from there on. For instance, if the stakeholders do not share your opinion on the necessity of change (the why), they will not back you up if you go for the targets that come with it (the what). So next to adjusting the why, you need to reconsider the targets, the way you are planning to meet them (the how) and of course that effects your plan.
After some iteration you will have a viable master plan. This is going to be your guideline for the years to come. Of course along the way new insights will surface, some of the minor hypotheses will be proven wrong and even the chosen way might not turn-out to be the best and demand for a pivot. But for now this is a best fundament for change you can get.
Once you have drawn the final master plan you can proceed with Step #7: engage your eco-system and invite them to help you. Need help? Here’s a checklist that can help you to get it right.
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What are your experiences in how innovation is managed? Can you relate to the steps of the Cycle? Do you know inspiring examples of organizations that are doing it well? Or failing miserably? This autumn the 11 posts of the Cycle of Innovation will be assembled in a book together with the best comments with attribution. As a token of my appreciation you receive a copy of the book per mail just in time for Christmas.
The DOK 5 Cycle of Innovation is an easy-to-use method that helps existing organizations to innovate effectively & efficient. The cycle consists of 10 steps that precede each other logically. They help to envision, plan, focus and deliver results without ignoring the existing business. Read more about the Cycle of Innovation.