In the Validation Phase, an innovative idea is validated as an idea that is worthwhile to bring to the Experimentation Phase in which a first hypothesis about the feasibility and/or customer value of the idea is tested in a real-life environment. The Validation Phase extends across the Innovation Level into the Portfolio Level, where the portfolio of ideas is validated against the organization’s priorities and into the Organization Level, where ideas are validated against Value Goals, Focus Areas and Challenges and where these goals are validated against real-life findings in the process of innovation.
Innovation Level – Validation Methods
At the Innovation Level, ideas are validated using Validation Methods such as Osterwalder’s Value Proposition Design or Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas. Validation takes no more than a few days and is performed by the Innovator and a multidisciplinary team of participants who have either relevant knowledge about the technical realization of the idea, such as technology experts or product managers, or who have a stake in its business outcome, such as business owners. The objective of the Validation Phase is to create a shared assumption about the technical feasibility and the potential business value of the idea. The process of validation is supported by Innovation Coaches, who are supporting the team in performing the validation and who are safeguarding the independent nature of the validation in the long-term interest of the corporation over the short-term interest of a division or department.
At the end of the Validation Phase, enough should be written down about the idea such as a light business case, the assessment of the value and feasibility, necessary resources and/or potential team members and a first hypothesis for experimentation.
Portfolio Level – Portfolio Kanban
Ideas and innovations are managed by the Innovation Coaches using a Portfolio Kanban. The primary purpose of this portfolio management is to ensure that the organization invests its time and resources in the most valuable innovations. The coaches use the kanban to manage the flow of individual innovations through the process steps of validation, experimentation, scaling up and embedding, where each of these steps may be divided into smaller steps. Immediately after the validation and experimentation step, they use the technique of the Weighted Shortest Job First to prioritize the ideas that create the most value for the organization in the shortest possible lead time.
Innovation Coaches validate the contribution of individual ideas to the overall Value Goals, Focus Areas and Challenges, as determined by the Continuous Innovation Board. In return they validate the Value Goals, Focus Areas and Challenges against direct feedback from the Innovators on organizational improvement and innovation. They do so by translating the Value Goals, Focus Areas and Challenges into transparent criteria for validation of individual ideas and by facilitating open discussion and exchange of ideas between individuals.
Organization Level – Value Goals, Focus Areas & Challenges
At the highest level of the framework, the Continuous Innovation Board (CIB) validates all information about Strategic Drivers it has identified and combines it with insights from the Innovation Coaches and results from Continuous Improvement. Based on these insights, the CIB provides strategic direction to innovation portfolio management process by setting and adjusting the focus areas for the next 9-12 months.