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Four Tips on How to Plan Innovative Experiments

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Last week followers of the Harvard Business Review blog could pick up some tips on how to perform successful innovation experiments from Vijay Govindarajan, professor of International Business at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, co-author of “ Reverse Innovation” and number 3 on the latest Thinkers 50 list of the world’s most influential business thinkers.  

The video was posted as part of Harvard Business Review’s “Management Tip” initiative. In this short presentation Govindarajan talks about the importance of innovation in companies, regardless of their size and profile. He touches upon the role of potential failure as a factor discouraging many managers from supporting innovation. He explains that, based on his experience, “failure is not the real enemy (...) the real enemy is prolonged, expensive failure”. Govindarajan believes that discipline, planning and pragmatic approach can lead to cheap, quickly verifiable experiments that will help companies “spend little to learn a lot”. The tips he proposes form the progressive steps of a process which should lead to successful, that is inexpensive and promptly validated, experiment:

  1. List the unknowns.

  2. Rate the level of uncertainty and importance for each of the unknowns.

  3. List highest ranking unknowns first.

  4. Find inexpensive ways of testing your assumptions, verify them in the ranking order.

Govindarajan keeps his presentation on a very high level, trying to keep it relevant for different companies and teams. It resonated well with both the technical and the business communities. To learn more about Govindarajan’s views on innovation, read one of his more recent blog entries. Co-created with Creative Realities’ Mark Sebell the post gives more insights into the prohibitive factors in team innovativeness. And if you want to know more about his book, listen to Moe Abdou’s interview on the 33voices website.

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