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The Three Dimensions of Pragmatic Innovation: Methodologies for Developing an Innovation-First Organization

Yev Galper

Head of Innovation-as-a-Service, EPAM

No brand can ignore competition. Companies like Borders, MySpace, Kodak, Blockbuster and many others that once dominated their respective industries seemed invincible. But when other competitors started accelerating innovation, specifically pragmatic innovation, these former brand giants became extinct.

We constantly hear about how startups are disrupting industries such as Financial Services, Retail, Travel, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Education etc. At this point, nobody is immune to the threat of innovation at startups. The only reasonable defense is to become entrepreneurial again.

The bottom line? Disrupt or be disrupted.

Successful innovation is pragmatic innovation. It not only produces extraordinary, novel ideas, but it also ensures that these ideas are relevant and in line with business goals, bring true value to users, and are implementable with reasonable effort. This demands some rigor in terms of methodologies and processes.

We’ve defined three essential dimensions of pragmatic innovation: 

  • Envision: Leveraging effective innovation and problem solving methodologies to enable inventive ideation;
  • Build: Making these ideas real with Agile, Lean engineering, and product development approaches and validating them with real users;
  • Cultivate: Managing innovation as a program ensures continuous generation, validation and implementation of innovative ideas.

Methodologies like Design Thinking, TRIZ and Strategic Intuition are effective during the ideation phase. They all have their pros and cons, so it’s important to evaluate which methodology fits best with your brand. Design Thinking has a more intuitive and empathetic approach and helps understand users and their challenges. TRIZ and Strategic Intuition employ more analytical methods to find solutions outside of the familiar context and are based on relevant innovations that have been successfully implemented in other industries.

Of course, it is not enough to come up with a great idea - you have to make sure it sees the light of day. Agile and Lean Product Development methodologies enable the creation of a Proof of Concept (POC) and a Prototype and Minimal Viable Product (MVP) quickly, with a small budget and validation by end users, which is exactly the goal before committing to a specific idea. 

An idea sees the light of day only if it is productized (integrated into an existing product or service or newly implemented). To make this happen, innovation processes need to be in line with mainstream product development processes which is easier said than done. In order for an innovation program to be successful, it has to be managed with a number of individual initiatives and streams. Part of that means having a robust series of validation steps to ensure that ideas move forward and are matched with a budget if they prove to be viable.

Companies must continuously innovate if they want to stay relevant in today’s ever-changing technology landscape. Innovation must be cultivated and managed as a program in order to become a way of living and; to be effective, it must incorporate Inventive Ideation and Lean Engineering methodologies into its everyday practice.

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