October 09, 2012 // By: Jennifer Lankheim // How To Innovate like a Pro
Actually, the companies that are the most interested in pretotyping are the largest companies. I admit I was surprised by this; I also thought it was a startup thing. But if you look at the existing ‘waterfall’ model for new product development in the enterprise, it makes sense. Traditionally, a company decides they’re going to launch a new product, spends two years in development, a year in testing and refinement, and then they launch it. People are dissatisfied with that, because it takes a long time and if the product falls flat on its face – which happens all the time – they’ve just wasted an enormous amount of money, time, and resources.
It’s true. The bigger and more established the company, the harder it is to get into the frame of mind to do experiments.
Whenever there is innovation, there are two constituencies: one is the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed engineers with the great idea. Then there are the people on the business side, asking about headcount and resources. In a conventional, waterfall scenario, the first camp only gets people to buy-in to their idea if they are powerful and charming and have a history of success as an innovator. More often, you’re just a guy with a crazy idea, like Twitter, and you get shot down.
At Google we say ‘Data beats opinion’ and ‘Say it with numbers’. Pretotyping does this: it moves you from the world of ideas to the world of data. The discussion between the innovators and investors is no longer about opinion. You don’t just think your product is going to be great; you have data to back you up. That changes the conversation. I like to say: ‘Innovate like a startup; go to market like a grown up’.
Beyond that, it’s really just a matter of time, given the rate of change in the market, that concepts like pretotyping are widely adopted. If you look at mega trends in business and technology, it’s not just optimal, but essential. Things are moving too fast to start with big plans. If you have something with a two-year development plan, it’s going to be obsolete before you launch it. It just doesn’t work. You need to be very nimble and do things quickly.