How Long Does Innovation Take? • Derek Cheshire

Elbert Grims

How Long Does Innovation Take?

Recently I attempted to answer the question ‘how much?’ and now ‘how long?’. These are probably the two most frequent questions that I am asked, regarding innovation. If you have not already seen my article about the cost of innovation you may find it useful.

The thing is, the answer is the one that you don’t want to hear. ‘It depends’ or ‘forever’ are the two most likely answers I can give you. Why?

Most businesses try to get to grips with Innovation as a result of wanting to develop new products or services, usually quickly. You might be able to do with with your current R&D setup but let us imagine that you cannot, you want something different, something that will leave the competition for dead.

You are going to need to conjure up a selection of employees, the right mix is crucial here. They will need resources such as time and space and permission from someone very senior to be playful (sorry prototype). They will of course need some specific targets or else they really will just be playing.

So if you meet these still woolly requirements, how long? To get some successful reinvention going (others might call this incremental innovation) you could get something ready in around 6 to 8 months. If you want to be a little more radical then maybe 2 years.

This is just a wetted finger in the air. With my innovation assessment hat on I have seen truly disruptive innovation take 7 or 8 years to get to market.

And what about the ‘forever’ answer?

Regular readers will know that I believe that Innovation is something we should be doing constantly so it would last forever. Think of it as an ice cream machine that is always turned on and loaded with ingredients rather than being turned on each summer.

There is another way too. If you get stuck in the ‘cycle of non innovation’ you could be there forever and produce absolutely nothing. Read more here.

Do not be put off though, the gains can be immense.

Let’s make Innovation work for you …

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