How does your organisation cope with the exponential increase in the speed of change? Is there a focus on agile transformation? Have you hired some Agile coaches? Are there new job titles in your tech teams (i.e., scrum master, product owner, storyteller, etc.)? The reality is that organisations need to move faster. But adopting a copycat model of Spotify’s tribes, squads and guilds will not automatically translate into an agile organisation that delivers return on investment (ROI).

You will need to develop your own version of organisational agility. This is a not a “tick-the-box” exercise for you and your teams. It is about creating new boxes in a quicker fashion that directly reflects your organisation’s mission. This requires agility and fluidity to be inserted into the operational processes by deploying innovative use cases that satisfy the market appetite for new experiences, products and services at scale.

The continuous innovation framework has become a standard for organisations across several industries that are looking to remain competitive by building new core competences, while focusing on innovation.

The continuous innovation framework

Graphic for methodologies to innovate for digital transformation.

IDC, 2018

Stage 1: Ideate

Over the past few years various ideation methodologies have been introduced to identify, prioritise and build out relevant ideas. Design thinking (for practical, creative resolution of problems), value-stream mapping (for analysing the current state and designing a preferred future state), and journey mapping (for understanding the flow of interactions and possible touch points) can all aid the ideation process.

Ultimately, the ideation process should help an organisation frame a problem, define a value proposition that addresses the problem, and discover possible working solutions to that problem.

Stage 2: Incubate

During the incubation stage, the goal is to build a lightweight version of the solution so it can be tested in a real-life environment. Only after the solution has been proven to deliver on its promise will it be ready for additional investments to potentially scale it across the organisation.

At this stage, the first version of the solution is often called a prototype or the minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP is an outcome with the least amount of investment required for an audience to experience the solution. The MVP is likely to fail, so if it cannot solve the problem it was designed for, it would not make sense to invest any significant amount. Moreover, the MVP provides very limited functionality and should not be connected to any information systems. Sometimes the MVP can be as simple as a wireframe for information or interface design in the form of a mock-up.

Stage 3: Implement

Once a successful MVP has been identified and embraced by the customer (which can be internal or external) as a working solution to the problem, it transitions to the implementation stage. The core goal during this stage is the so-called “growth hacking”. The objective is to optimise the solution while scaling out its customer base.

The implementation stage is where most companies get stuck in the innovation process, as they struggle to execute the identified use cases across the entire organisation. So basically, organisations are in a proof of concept (POC) jail, and the only way to break free is to change their mind-sets and ways of working to increase agility across the organisations, empowering people to adapt to the need of the hour.

We don’t fail. We continuously improve.

We are seeing many large organisations (not only the Spotifys of the world) already developing products and services through collaboration among self-organising, cross-functional teams as part of a continuous innovation framework. A critical element in this transition towards agile is the change in the perception of failure. Agile relies on short development cycles that deliver iterative tech capabilities via sprints instead of using just one final delivery of a multi-year transformation project. During those sprints, failure is seen as an opportunity to “unlearn”, “re-learn” and “up-skill” capabilities in order to remain relevant in the new market conditions.

The reality is that, in the future, how you deal with failure will be the secret of your success. Organisations that can create the right framework for failure at a feature, product or business-unit level will define the gold standard of organisational agility in the digital era.

This article is part of the IDC series “Your pathway to digital success,” written to inspire business leaders to overcome common challenges along their organisations’ journeys.