Today, I reviewed Christopher Miller's projectmanagement.com presentation from this month, "Innovation on a burning platform." Milller reviews some innovation case studies and suggests some approaches to make innovation success more likely. The recorded webinar's audio is shaky, but I found Miller's presentation valuable in thinking through project management and larger portfolio management.
The above diagram is from a circa 1999 campaign by Coleman to promote the in-home use of its products. This was part of a rapidly-developed plan presented to Walmart that was designed to encourage sales of its products. Even though the approach benefited by the then-significant conversation over Y2K, Miller points out that the advertising did not reference Y2K in any way - Coleman left it to the consumer to make any linkages like this.
Miller describes the benefits of intensive, colocated team work, particularly at the start of innovation projects, with morning, afternoon, and evening sessions over days and even several weeks in order to compress the project schedule. He cited and described a case study involving Johnson Controls.
In approaching innovation, Miller cites the importance of "following the highest level of guideline that may have jurisdiction." (He cites this example in describing the development of the drug Revia.) In terms of project management, Miller urges managers to work to get the potential problems discussed up front and to bring in "knowledgeable naysayers." This is very relevant to me from past project work and frankly, it's more difficult than it sounds. He touches on this in terms of project team composition and it's important that the team have all needed skills to support the project - and the ability to support informed, constructive engagement.
Finally, Christopher Miller led off the session by citing research suggesting that managers leading innovation projects are evaluated in the same way as operational managers, which feels correct and underscores the challenges of leading an innovation project, particularly projects in which the health and the future of the business/organization is at stake.
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