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How to make your Innovation Program successful in your business

Before you embark on an incredible Innovation Program for your business, you need to understand the fundamentals. Innovation Programs provide a highly effective way for companies to validate and develop ideas, so that they can start moving forward with a solid product.

However, if you haven’t worked through some key questions before you start, you may be wasting time and money. We’re sharing how you can make your innovation program successful from the beginning and what a successful innovation program should include.

What is an Innovation Program?

An innovation program is an idea sprint whereby employees within a business come up with ideas and test them. New ideas are pitched, validated and morphed into MVP or Minimum Viable Products. Essentially, innovation programs take a company through the whole process of idea generation and product creation to create a full business plan for the idea.

An Innovation Program is an amazing feat for a company to undergo and takes a lot of time and effort. That said, the results can be incredible. It is a rejuvenating and exciting time for a company and can help employees team together and come up with some of their best ideas. If you’re thinking of embarking on an innovation program, take a look at some of the ways you can make it a success.

Ensure you have enough ideas

One of the first mistakes that many businesses make is not having enough ideas. Without enough ideas to work through innovation programs can feel stagnant and static. Finding the right ideas is about weeding through hundreds and hundreds of potentials and coming up with new ideas along the way. It is an incredibly creative process.

Before you start your innovation program, ask yourself do we have 100s of ideas in the portfolio to work through? If not, it’s back to the drawing board you go before starting your innovation program.

Validate ideas thoroughly

In the validation stage you need to focus on de-risking investments by thoroughly validating each idea. An idea that isn’t fully validated before you proceed with the process will likely cost time and money. Eventually you’ll get to the stage where you have to pull the plug because it’s not feasible, but will have already wasted a lot of time on the idea.

A simplified version of validating an idea requires several team members, customer analysis and market research. It’s essential that you have these things in place before you start the innovation program or you may waste time and money.

Validate your ideas by:

  • Defining the idea, and the goal of that idea
  • Developing a hypothesis around why it might work/ not work
  • Experimenting with alternative hypotheses allowing your idea to broaden
  • Validating the hypothesis you have 
  • Getting internal feedback to validate the idea
  • Getting external feedback to validate the idea

Build new products based on validated ideas

Once you have these validated ideas, it’s time to build products based on only the validated ideas. Whilst it is tempting to start building a product that you really love the sound of, this might be a bad idea if you haven’t validated the idea.

Think about the products that would be a natural progression of the idea you have had, and how your product might serve an engaged audience. In this stage working with a digital innovation lab can assist you with product development for each validated idea.

Strive for product-market fit

Before you go any further with your product ideas, it’s time to consider whether there is a strong product-market fit. This means, defining whether there is a need for your product on the market, and how it will fit into the market that we see today.

Striving for a product-market fit will ensure that your product is developed with the market in mind – something that ambitious and excited founders often forget. A clear understanding of the market you’re targeting and a knowledge of where your product will fit in is essential in this stage.

Move through the idea generation, validation, MVP and product-market fit stages efficiently

Once you have a handle on the stages that each idea has to go through, a measure of your success is how well you can effectively work through each stage. The more ideas you can take through these stages within your innovation program, the more successful you will be. Multiple product options that all fit the brief is the best outcome that any company could wish for, and achieving that goal is about working through the steps in good time.

Idea generation: How many ideas are you coming up with? Can you cultivate an environment where new ideas are encouraged? Are people bouncing off each other to create new ideas? Are there plenty of ideas to work with?

Validation: Are you validating your ideas effectively? Do you have experts on hand who can help you do this? What does validation mean to you?

Product-Market fit: Is there room for this product on the market? Is the market ready for it now or would there be a better time to release it? Who are the competitors? Why will your product succeed?

MVP: What is your Minimum Viable Product, or even better what is your Minimum Lovable Product? Discover what you need in terms of product to actually go to market. This will help you define success for your goal.

Assess how much you’re investing in each stage

Time, money and opportunity cost are all things that you’ll invest when you embark on any new product journey. It’s important to ensure that this investment is being well used and is equally balanced.

When you’re working through an innovation program you’re likely to be investing a lot of time, and you want to ensure that each stage is allocated enough time to be effective. As you go through the program, be aware of how much time you’re spending in each stage. Are there imbalances? If so, this is where you need to review and fine tune your process.

When you work with ENO8, the process becomes seamless. Learn more about our innovation sprints and the digital products that we’ve helped create so far.


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Jeff Francis

Jeff Francis is a veteran entrepreneur and founder of Dallas-based digital product studio ENO8. Jeff founded ENO8 to empower companies of all sizes to design, develop and deliver innovative, impactful digital products. With more than 18 years working with early-stage startups, Jeff has a passion for creating and growing new businesses from the ground up, and has honed a unique ability to assist companies with aligning their technology product initiatives with real business outcomes.

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