What is Innovation Architecture?
Innovation Architecture is a framework designed to tackle the unique challenges of systematically exploring and building new ventures at organizations in an experimental and iterative way to ensure the ventures are implemented. Just as an architect designs a building to withstand the forces of nature that actively try to knock it down, new ventures need to be architected to overcome the organizational challenges that try to knock them down.
Implementation is an afterthought with the popular innovation and entrepreneurial practices that organizations use today. Innovation Architecture's focus is building businesses, not just generating ideas, that prevent organizational roadblocks before they happen and put ventures onto the path to implementation.
In an organization your venture is battling to prove that it should receive resources over something else. There are 3 things that an organization looks for to free up resources for a new venture, and achieving these 3 tenets are the basis of Innovation Architecture.
Removal of Risk
Risk is at the forefront of every organizational decision. Systematic removal of risk through rigorous experimentation and data collection at every stage in the process.
Alignment of Customer and Organizational Needs
Many popular innovation practices focus on customer needs alone and forget about organizational needs and entirely miss that the two need to match. The process starts with finding organizational needs, continues to matching those to customer needs and ends with alignment of strategy and value to both the customer and organization.
Path to Value
Figuring out the business model of how your new venture will generate value is only part of the puzzle. Ventures also need to prove the path through development, implementation and value creation.
As a framework, Innovation Architecture isn't a specific step-by-step process. It is an iterative series of elements that ventures move within while being explored, developed and ultimately implemented.
Why should the organization pursue your venture? Is there an organizational or business unit problem that you are solving? Does it align to a strategic initiative? There needs to be a reason for your venture to matter to the organization.
Who is the customer that your venture will be providing value for? What is the need you're providing for or the problem you're solving?
How will your venture create value for both the customer and the organization? Value doesn't have to be focused financial alone, because there are many other forms of value. This also relates to seeing your venture as a business and how that business will take shape.
Just as you interview your customers while exploring and developing the venture, you need to do the same with your stakeholders. What is the need you're providing for or problem you're solving for their line of business or area of the company? How does your venture provide for their need or solve their problem?
Development and delivery
How will your venture be developed? What capabilities are necessary to deliver your venture? Will your company develop and deliver the venture entirely in-house or should you partner with someone? What is your go-to-market and growth plan?
Using Innovation Architecture to build a repeatable Venture development capability
There is no 'one-size' fits all when it comes to companies building an innovation capability to repeatable explore and develop new ventures. Startup accelerators, incubators, skunkworks, innovation lab etc. come in many shapes and sizes. Finding the right one for your organization requires experimentation.
However, there is a path to follow that ensures your capability is integrated to the organization and executes ventures. Many organizations like to jump ahead in the path and just start a lab, incubator or otherwise. This is a surefire way to ensure their failure.
In addition to these tackle steps along the path, there are supporting elements that leadership needs do in parallel