How does one convert abstract ideas into practical applications for portfolio management? To this end, Jen Skrabak for Voices on Project Management advises us to abandon the concept of innovation as a “breakthrough” event because, in reality, most brilliant and applicable ideas are the products of an iterative process that involves experimentation and patience.
Innovation Insights for the PPM
Borrowing from businessman Tim Ogilvie, Skrabak presents a few important considerations for identifying projects and programs that rise above the flock:
a). The best place for a portfolio manager to start is with the ideas and innovations that already exist. What is “out there” being done by the rest of the industry? There’s no point in reinventing the wheel!
b). Fishing for changes is not thorough enough. The innovator needs to identify, prioritize, and target those options that will have the maximum positive value in the end from a set of all possibilities (what hasn’t been done yet).
c). Innovation is something that tends to revolutionize. But as Skrabak points out, that doesn’t mean innovation is entirely novel. Sometimes existing items need only be combined in novel ways.
d). In the event that an idea fails as soon as it ventures off the drawing board, that’s okay. Sometimes, per the iterative method, a collection of failed ideas are the building blocks of successful ones.
Skrabak offers a diagramming method that she terms an “Innovation Model Canvas” with eight sections to help the portfolio manager prepare his/her case for a new innovation. The Canvas can also be used as a presentation tool to map the aspects of the portfolio that need further development or reworking. It includes topics such as value proposition, channels, customer relationships, and cost structure.