Project Management

You Can’t Schedule Innovation

Rich is the CEO of Mironov Consulting. He coaches product executives, product management teams and revenue-focused agile development organizations.

Finding something that customers need and don’t yet know they want and will lead to massive adoption or word of mouth and hasn’t been uncovered by the competition and is technically feasible and fits our funding/economic model will be quite rare. Certainly not solved by writing quarterly goals to be more innovative. We can’t demand or schedule innovation.

So what’s our alternative? We can schedule and fund discovery: the intentional, organized, thoughtful, stepwise, interview-based search for real insights. We can regularly get out of our corporate bubbles and talk with (listen to!) large numbers of actual users/customers/prospects. Because it doesn’t matter what our product managers (or executives or salespeople or investors) think—our ultimate users and buyers get to decide if something is valuable or entertaining or innovative.

There are tons of resources for how to do this well. But product discovery is lot like drilling for oil or designing vaccines or writing a hit musical: no guarantee of success and no fixed timeline. We have to do the work, apply our best tools and techniques, listen and learn like crazy, tilt the odds in our favor. We have to send our smartest folks out to interview, survey, observe, analyze, hypothesize, self-critique, and humbly look for what others have missed. Discovery favors the prepared mind.

So how do we help our executive teams to …


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