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Innovation jargon buster

Agile is an approach to project management particularly used in software development. This method assists teams in responding to the unpredictability of constructing software. Solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customer(s)/end user(s). It uses incremental, iterative work sequences that are commonly known as sprints.

Business incubator is an organization designed to accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services that could include physical space, capital, coaching, common services, and networking connections.

Client journey mapping is a diagram that illustrates the steps the client is going through, engaging with a firm from initial contact, through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship.  It is used to identify client pain points and can be used as a stimulus for developing innovation solutions for solving these issues.  They are often used in conjunction with empathy maps.

Design thinking is a systematic, human-centred approach to solving complex problems using logic, imagination, intuition and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes that benefit the customer.

Empathy mapping is a collaborative visualization used to articulate what we know about a particular type of client.  Empathy maps are widely used throughout agile and design communities.  They encourage stakeholders to think about user needs effectively, identifying pain points and opportunities in a systematic and straightforward way. They are often used in conjunction with client journey mapping.

Hackathon is a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, and others, often including subject-matter-experts, collaborate intensively on software projects.

Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas, where an idea is understood as a basic element of thought that can be either visual, concrete, or abstract.

Legal design is the application of human-centred design to the world of law and a way of assessing and creating legal services, with a focus on how usable, useful and engaging these services are.

Lean can be described as creating greater value for the consumer while using fewer resources. A lean organization focuses its key processes to continuously increase customer value.

Open innovation – Fifty years ago a new approach to innovation emerged known as ‘open innovation’, a term promoted by Henry Chesbrough, the faculty director of the Hass School of Business at the University of California (Chesbrough, 2003). In his view: “Open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology.”

Put simply, the boundaries between a firm and its external environment have become more permeable and professionals should embrace the diversity of thought and ideas that a more open approach brings. Good ideas can come from your clients, your suppliers, your collaborators and third parties, not only from your employees.

Process mapping is the act of creating a workflow diagram with the goal of gaining a clearer understanding of how a process and its parallel processes work. Business process mapping refers to activities involved in defining what a business entity does, who is responsible, to what standard a business process should be completed, and how the success of a business process can be determined.

Portfolio planning is the business process by which organizations determine the set of innovation and new product development (NPD) investments they will fund—and those they won’t—to achieve their business objectives.

Prototyping – People tend to think of prototypes as only applicable to physical products, but the principles can also be applied to new services, and this is particularly appropriate for professional services firms where clients tend to buy on track record, relationships and proven successes.

To build a prototype, mock up how the client would experience the new service offering. This could include developing a website, marketing material and sample outputs. You could even write a script for how staff and clients would interact in key scenarios such as a sales meeting or delivery meeting for the new service.

Prototyping is an important stage in the innovation process that shouldn’t be skipped over. It helps your innovation team to visualize exactly what will be needed to deliver the final service before you go to the expense of developing the real thing. Role-playing sales or delivery scenarios is also a good way of anticipating client needs and identifying potential challenges to the new service which can be ironed out before the idea is scaled up.

Storyboarding is a graphic organizer in the form of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing an interaction with clients or users.

Sprint is a set period of time during which specific work has to be completed and made ready for review.

Scrum is a framework for project management that emphasizes teamwork, accountability and iterative progress toward a well-defined goal. The framework begins with a simple premise: Start with what can be seen or known and track the progress, making tweaks as necessary. The three pillars of Scrum are: transparency, inspection and adaptation.

Sandbox is a digital environment and toolset which enables large groups of stakeholders to act autonomously and without hierarchy in the building of innovative concepts and solutions.

Valley of death is the potential period of time spanning from when an idea receives an initial capital contribution to when it begins generating revenues.  Many innovations fail to survive due to lack of interest and sustained investment – hence the ‘valley of death’. New ideas are exciting at the beginning. People flock to offer ideas, brainstorm and make plans, but soon interest lags as the hard work of rollout continues. Many firms suffer from too many initiatives that don’t quite take off.  Sustained investment is required to take good ideas and scale them up successfully. But leaders also need to know when to pull the plug.