At this point in the lifecycle of an innovation, you have done the research and perhaps have brought your idea to life by building a product. Scaling the innovation, then, is about unlocking the value of the product to the majority of the available market. This will lead to expansion in the future and eventually a sustainable product and business model for successful growth. As Viima puts it in its blog on the subject, “Scaling Innovation,” “We can define scaling an innovation as the process of expanding the presence and the use of the innovation to be as widespread as possible to maximize that impact.”
Assuming your product is ready to go as you have envisioned and developed it, it’s also important at this step to have a goal or target in mind. Is it revenue or profits? Market share? The number of customers or users? Clarify your vision for successfully scaling your innovation—and how you will measure success.
The Three Dimensions of Scaling
The traditional model of scaling an innovation, also termed as the adoption or diffusion in the marketplace, is fairly well known. The early market features innovators and early adopters of the product. Eventually, the product crosses into the mainstream market, and will be adopted by the majority of the population and finally by the laggards.
In its article, Viim takes a more nuanced look at the three dimensions of scaling an innovation. The first stage is effectively scaling up. A key to this approach is making sure “you can produce enough of the innovation to scale; and that you can do that efficiently enough to be financially and operationally viable.”
Next is scaling out. This is simply the “geographical or demographical expansion of the innovation to a larger audience.” This gets your product or service out to a wider, more mainstream audience. Product or brand positioning may be in order if the scaling out expands the product to new markets, regions or verticals.
A third dimension of scaling is known as scaling deep, which is focused on more of a cultural shift or evolving consumer mindset. According to Viima, this step in the process “essentially means that you unlock more impact for your innovation by expanding and maximizing the use of it, typically for the people who already have access to it.” This might be the case if your product has changed consumer behavior to the point where they increase their engagement or use of the product.
Achieving a scalable innovation with some or a mix of all three dimensions could of course take years and prove challenging. There are advantages and disadvantages both larger and smaller companies may face. However, the benefits include the maximization of your innovative product’s impact, the growth in value, and the acceleration of sales. The increased demand will eventually lead to a better and cheaper supply chain, for example, and more efficient business and operating models.
Making a Splash
The road to innovation development is rarely a straight and narrow path. Often, there are many detours along the way. But taking an innovation framework approach could help create a blueprint for success. It’s not enough anymore to just throw an idea onto the wall and hope it will stick. Instead, these flexible and agile frameworks are strategic structures designed to give the enterprise and the innovation team the ability to tap into ideas. One can then evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each idea, sharpen the decision-making around each idea generated and build strategies to turn them into value-generating opportunities.
In All Things Innovation’s “Innovation Ventures,” Seth Adler discusses the subject with Chris Varley, Principal of Goodyear Ventures, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Varley states that, “Big companies develop bureaucracy because they need it. What happens though is a lot of rigidity creeps in, and that can kill innovation. So, smart companies start looking at how we can keep the bureaucracy that we need to function as a large organization – but find better, faster, cheaper ways to get new ideas in-house and in the market.” This would be the origin of how a partnership with startups and corporate ventures comes into fruition.
What steps can a company take to improve scalable innovation? We asked ChatGPT for some advice regarding the subject. Having the right technology is a key part of the ability to accelerate the scalability of an innovation.
- Establish clear goals: A company should establish clear goals to guide its innovation efforts. This will help ensure that the resources invested in innovation are being used effectively and efficiently.
- Invest in research and development: Companies should invest in research and development to identify new opportunities for growth and improvement, as well as create innovative products or services that meet customer needs and wants.
- Foster a culture of innovation: Companies should foster an environment where employees feel empowered to think creatively and explore new ideas without fear of failure or retribution. Encouraging open dialogue can encourage creative thinking, allowing employees to come up with solutions outside the box that could be beneficial for the company’s long-term success.
- Leverage technology: Leveraging technology can help companies scale their operations faster, reduce costs, increase efficiency, improve accuracy, manage data better, automate processes, enable collaboration across departments etc., thus helping them become more agile to innovate quickly while maintaining scalability at all times.
- Develop partnerships and alliances: Developing strategic partnerships or alliances with other organizations can provide access to additional resources such as talent pools from which a company can draw upon when developing innovative ideas or products/services. It also gives access to markets which may not have been available before due to geographic constraints, thereby increasing scalability potential significantly.
- Embrace change management strategies: Companies must embrace change management strategies if they want their innovations scalable over time; this includes having policies in place regarding how changes will be implemented within the organization (such as training programs) so that everyone is on board with any changes made.
Weighing the Options
Scaling an innovation is not an easy task. A larger company may have deeper pockets than a smaller startup, yet the smaller venture may be nimbler and adapt to change quicker. Whatever type of company you have, Viima advises to be prepared for challenges and be realistic with your expectations and timelines. Scaling an innovation takes time and many incremental steps. There will be many problems to solve. But scaling challenges and opportunities can bring your innovation to its fullest potential.
Video courtesy of Capgemini