Innovation and portfolio management

by | September 30, 2020 | Standards

Reading time: 5 minutes

Bring focus to your innovation portfolio

Why is this important?

Especially people who work in an innovation lab have a natural tendency to constantly see new ideas and opportunities. If you, as an innovation lab, run after all ideas and opportunities, you will be doing too many projects at once or not finishing projects because you want to start on the next one. Both do not benefit the quality of the projects. That is why it is important to bring focus to the portfolio. And find a way to say no to a really good idea from an enthusiastic colleague.

How do we do that?

We do this by determining a limited number of themes (8) within which we want to tackle projects. We do not take on ideas and opportunities that fall outside these themes ourselves, but we often share them with other organizations or colleagues who can do something with them.
The themes are not permanently fixed and can be adjusted. But it is the intention that a theme has a shelf life of at least one year.

Portfolio must be aligned with the mission and vision of your organization

Why is this important?

If the project portfolio becomes too far removed from the mission and vision of your organization, there is a risk that it becomes unclear what the added value of the lab is. A lot of energy and time will be spent defending the right to exist of your lab. Energy that you can better use to add value to your organization.

How do we do that?

When determining themes and setting up projects, we look at how these fit in with the mission and vision of the SVB. In doing so, we mainly look at the long-term objectives of the organization. But also towards visions and themes that play a broader role within the social domain and the government.

Distinguish between exploratory and exploitative projects

By exploitative innovation we mean the use of innovation to arrive at solutions for problems and challenges that are currently at play at the SVB or in the field of social security.
By exploratory innovation we mean researching and trying out new technologies, social trends and ways of working. With the aim of building knowledge and skills that can later be applied in exploitative projects.

Why is this important?

Making a distinction between these two types of projects in the portfolio is important because in our experience, pursuing both goals in one project is very difficult to combine. If you focus on solving a problem and you want to learn something about a new technology at the same time, you are no longer free to say that the chosen technology is a bad idea and to switch to another.

How do we do that

When determining the themes on which we organize our innovation portfolio, approximately half of the themes are intended for themes within which we want to carry out exploratory projects. For example, we have a Voice theme in which we research the possibilities of voice technology.

Use different innovation methods

Why is this important?

“If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. If you are very good at one particular approach or method, you tend to apply this to all situations. But in the development of an innovation you often go through different phases that require a different approach.

How do we do that?

By especially looking carefully at which methodology best suits the phase a project is in. As Novum, we are not dogmatic and try out all methodologies, but there are five methods that we use frequently.

  1. Classic research. We mainly use this when we think we need knowledge that is not available to solve a problem. Proof of concept development. The development of a POC is often part of an investigation. We use this when we want to validate whether a technology is capable of something that has not previously been proven by someone else.
  2. Design Thinking / Design Sprints. We use this method to get from a problem to a design of a solution. Because design thinking is a method in which the user is central, we mainly apply this to solve problems that a user experiences.
  3. Lean Start-up. We use this method to move from a solution design to an actual product that end users can and want to use. And at the same time validate whether there is a valid business case for actually implementing the product on a large scale in the organization.
  4. Agile. We use this to transfer a product developed by the lab to a standing organization so that it is managed and at the same time continues to be developed.
  5. (Bonus method) Systems thinking. This is a method that Novum as a lab does not yet have much experience with, but we see that it can potentially be of great added value. Systems thinking focuses on the systematic consideration of systems, which enables you to understand a problem from a system perspective and to arrive at solutions.

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