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VOL. 128 | NO. 109 | Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Graber Atkinson

Michael Graber & Jocelyn Atkinson

Financial Speed Bumps for Innovations

By Michael Graber & Jocelyn Atkinson

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The creative process of birthing breakthrough innovations can provide a substantial top-line boon but too often suffers a fatal flaw felt in failed product launch after failed product launch.

Welcome to the Innovation Graveyard. Hundreds of millions of dollars get lost here.

Most innovations fail because they don’t get buy-in from the people who take them to market at key points in the process – and in words that motivate them. These marketers and product managers speak the language of money.

Find ways to build bridges with a larger pool of stakeholders to ensure the financial return of a firm’s innovation investment, as well as practical tips and exercises for getting a sense of what innovations will make at each point in the innovation process.

This larger audience includes every product manager, research and development professional, product marketer and innovation professional, as well as the directors, vice presidents, and C-level leadership who are responsible for the budgets and outcomes of the innovation efforts they sponsor.

They all care because they will be able to bridge the language of design and innovation with the language of business. Furthermore, use concrete tools, exercises and ways to model out and validate the expected financial return of each effort. As concepts move from down the filter from the abstract to market-ready, we will offer ways to measure both the possible and probable returns.

This validation process is missing in the innovation frameworks today. By adding this set of tools the business side of the house will become enrolled and energized into the innovation process earlier. Their involvement is the key to winning in the market.

Lastly, we recommend employing a few critical Go/No Go state gates decisioning tools, and a few quick instruments for prioritizing large numbers of possible innovations.

In the end, companies can have more assurance with their innovation spending and make decisions based on what innovations have the best chance of making money.

Most of the exercises noted here complement one another and can be used together to craft a full business case and go-to-market strategy at the end of the process.

Jocelyn Atkinson and Michael Graber run the Southern Growth Studio, a strategic growth firm based in Memphis. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.

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