Reducing Waste in Front End Innovation with an Iterative Process
John Farnbach, PhD, Principal, Silver Streak Partners
Carla Kuesten, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Consumer Product Research, Amway
A widespread source of waste in the front end of innovation is delayed discovery in research projects. An unforeseen roadblock or an unexpected new capability may be discovered late in the project, causing much of the previous work to be redirected or abandoned.
Contrary to long ingrained thinking, this waste of delayed discovery is actually caused by the “best practice” phase-gate processes that companies rely upon to eliminate waste. A truly innovative new concept is often characterized by multiple, interrelated unknowns, and any process in which research proceeds in a predetermined sequence of phases and gates is at risk of delaying an important discovery or decision until late in the project.