The Importance of Fast Innovation

By Martin Gilliard

Fast innovation surprises competitors and therefore assists in gaining competitive advantage by increasing overall speed to market which in turn should ultimately increase profitability.

The rapid introduction of new or enhanced products or services leaves competitors with two options: they can either continue as planned, introducing a product or service to a market with a very much reduced opportunity or they can re-direct their efforts on to other projects.

fast innovation

(Photo Credit: Chris-Håvard Berge)


Providing quick innovations delights customers by frequently improving their perceived levels of added value.

Of course producing innovations so that they meet the required delivery date and so that they create a differential offering with a high probability of success is no easy task.

Fast innovation does not mean hurried innovation.

One method used by many large organizations for accelerating the innovation process is rapid prototyping.

Another method is to re-use wherever possible. What aspects of the innovation process are you able to re-use? One is of course knowledge that is already available elsewhere - such as open innovation or knowledge directly from your customers or suppliers.

A further method is to adopt some of the techniques but forward by the lean movement. One simple but clear definition for Lean is 

"…the relentless pursuit of the perfect process through waste elimination…"

Here you would apply lean tools and techniques to the innovation process to reduce any waste that is inherent in the process.

Lean defines seven types of waste that can exist in a process…

Type of Waste Description
Over Production A product has been made for no specific customer
Waiting A product is sat waiting to be processed
Transport Moving a product between locations
Inventory Waste in terms of the costs to store the product
Over processing Process steps that do not add value
Motion The excessive movement of people
Defects Errors during or within the process


Fast innovation also incorporates some of the tools and techniques from the six sigma realm including VOC or voice of the customer and QFD or quality function deployment.

VOC to ensure that you are building the right thing and QFD to ensure you are focussing predominantly on what is most important to meet your customer's CTQ (Critical To Quality) aspects.

fast innovation book

In the book Fast Innovation - Achieving Superior Differentiation, Speed to Market, and Increased Profitability by Michael George, James Works, Kimberly Watson-Hemphill, and Clayton Christensen

Three innovation imperatives are proposed:

  • Differentiation: “Providing the customer with superior performance per unit of cost.”

  • Fast time-to-market: Quickly creating new innovations to displace the commoditized old and getting to the market quick enough to earn high margins from the product or service.

  • Disruptive innovations: Embracing disruptive innovations in order to empower growth and break away from competition.

This books key focus is on fast time to market and suggests that one way to get faster at this is to reduce the number of projects that you currently have active. 

US Residents can purchase this book from Amazon by clicking here and UK residents by clicking here 



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