Maximizing Innovation: Great Proof of Concept! Now What?

Note:  this article was also published on TabbFORUM.

What Happens After the Hype?

A Proof of Concept (POC) is used to validate the feasibility of a new way of doing things, either to solve existing problems or to execute new strategies. The POC is also a learning experience for both the business and technology teams. To limit the inherent risk of large projects, the scope is usually limited to specific objectives.

The run up to the POC can be very exciting, especially if there is a lot of hype surrounding the underlying technology that is being used. A successful demonstration, therefore, can further increase the hype around it, far exceeding the original scope.

Now what happens?

The Need for Adoption

Great feats of innovation can die a slow and unremarkable death if they are not adopted by the organization. Adoption requires a comprehensive approach to integration that recognizes the importance of how people work as well as a sound, technical implementation.

Innovation is the creation of value by executing an idea. To realize value, people need to directly identify with the idea through ease of access and practicality of use. The solution needs to align with the organization both technically and culturally.

[Related: “Regulating Innovation Without Killing It”]

Technically, you can realize the value of the idea through its primary functionality but also through its connectivity to and the enrichment of other tools on the network. This provides ease of access, like adding an app to your phone.

Culturally, you can realize the value of the idea by aligning core tenants of the solution with common challenges. Often, problems that are perceived as unique for one group in the organization are very similar to challenges faced by other groups. Associate the solution to these patterns in order to articulate practicality of use.

Keep It Simple

Keep the POC simple so that your audience members can clearly match the solution to their specific needs by presenting small examples that align to a pattern of common problems. Don’t hide the value under implementation details. Let them discover their own integration scenarios. Self-derived solutions will be more relevant to the end user (and the organization) than ones dreamt up by committee.

There are three components to facilitating the adoption of innovation:

  1. Identify Fit for Purpose: Demonstrate the near-term and practical applications of the solution so that it identifies directly with your audience.
  2. Educate and Promote: Set up a digital strategy that incorporates multimedia and social channels to allow prospective users to easily find and learn about the solution on their own terms. The simple fit for purpose message should lead them to say, “Hey, we could use that!”
  3. Rinse and Repeat: Successful and diverse implementations of the solution will result in more examples of fit for purpose. These examples can then be promoted and shared across the organization for further adoption.

By keeping the solution simple and promoting the value of that solution through broad community feedback, you can maximize the adoption of innovative solutions across the organization.