[The Flickr picture created by Jef Poskanzer is used under a Creative Commons licence. Thanks Jeff!].
Bill talks of Buxton's rule: “Innovation in Process + Product trumps innovation in process alone.”
As we come under pressure to improve innovation performance by creative design a common cry is "we haven't got time to explore way out ideas, let's stick to what we know will work !" - usually meaning incremental improvements that only fleetingly gain a competitive advantage.
When my team were faced with such attitudes we realised that if we could make dramatic changes to the decision-taking cycle we would release time that could be used more effectively to change the nature of the proposed product.
We realised that 5% improvements were not dramatic enough to get attention so we created an M>W>D approach. In other words we looked at time taken to do a significant design iteration. If it took a month to do a couple of iterations then we looked at how we could do them in a Week; if it took a week we looked at how to do them in a Day; and so on. Hence the short hand name of M>W>D.
Creating Dramatic change likes this takes a great deal of effort and at first credibility is an issue. Our approach was to:
1. Identify the technology or technique that will enable the change in time.
2. Do a dummy run under wraps to learn how to actually do it, and who it affects outside the group.
3. Create a great story of what benefits will flow from adopting a different approach, but only promise 50% of potential improvement as there are factors external to our group's control that can screw things up
3. Ask a project manager if we could demonstrate that we can make a significant difference to timescales on his/her project, guaranteeing that even if the new approach we will do it in the expected time, i.e. no risk to the project
4. Over deliver, creating a WOW factor and ensuring next time we speak people will listen intently.
5. Do it again.
Over a period of three years we reduced timescales [ from winning idea to production startup] of three years to just under a year, a reduction of 30% per year affecting everybodies work practices: suppliers, contractors, factories, human resources, training, marketing, and many more beside.
But the basic simple driving narrative is:
"How do we do this task that takes a month in a week;
or a week in a day; or....."
But to achieve real and long lasting savings it does mean looking at the overall culure of groups that are involved in achieving the outcome and negotiating through all the ifs, buts and maybes that get heaped on the path of progress.