The Invisible Chains That Hold Back Your Innovation Potential

Lack of Operational Budget For Front End Innovation

In this series, I will unpack hidden systemic factors that prevent companies from achieving their full innovation potential. We call these Invisible Chains.

This post will explore another common invisible chain, that is lack of operational budget for front end innovation. Most companies that I have worked with, have some sort of a budget set aside for innovation projects, but these mainly cover the development costs associated with design, prototyping and production. While it is essential to have this budget, there are many other resource-and-time consuming activities at the front-end of the innovation process which are not accounted for. These include customer discovery, research and experimentation to make sure we are solving the right problems, and idea generation and evaluation.

Without putting appropriate budget and time allocations for these activities, project work and business-as-usual processes take over, and these activities are either rushed through or never completed. Consequently, the following symptoms start to show in the organisation:

Very long project timelines

Many of the more transformational projects are stalled or delayed because the team have not had the time or resources to complete the required front-end activities. It is common in organisations suffering from this invisible chain to hear the innovation team complain that “We don’t have a budget for this” or “We also have a business to run, and we didn’t get around to do this”.

Underperforming projects or catastrophic failures

Rushing or skipping the front-end activities, that are aimed at retiring risk before major resources are committed to the project, resulting in projects carrying forward significant unresolved uncertainties. The eventual outcome is often underperforming projects and at times catastrophic failures.

Mostly incremental innovations

When the innovation team does not have budget and time allocated to front-end activities, it is common for them to take on fewer, smaller and less risky projects. As a result, the business will attempt mostly incremental innovation projects, which may not be in line with its innovation ambitions.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms in your business and would like to learn how to Develop and Implement an Innovation Operational Budget get in touch with us at IMS Projects.