Using a pipeline, you can take a large number of ideas you want to test, and quickly and cheaply prioritise those which are showing the most promise and progress.
If you want to visualise it, it should look like a funnel, where a large number of ideas or projects are fed in the top, wide part of the funnel, and during various review stages, and as time passes those which show less promise are removed.
After all, not all ideas are good ideas.
This way you end up with a large number of unknown ideas at the front, but only one or two high potential projects with resources allocated by the end.
The danger is when companies or innovation teams are not willing to remove ideas.
This can happen when an innovation project is started, given budget, but not set criteria against which progress can be measured.
These projects have the tendency to resist being killed if they are not performing, saying things like:
“We just need more time to find the right group of customers or product market fit”
In effect, what was supposed to be an innovation pipeline ends up looking like an innovation pipe.
A blocked pipe, where only the same previous ideas are taking up resources which would be best allocated to other, newer projects.
The best way to prevent this happening, or even to unblock an innovation pipe you have previously built, is to improve your innovation management governance processes.
If your innovation teams and leaders all know which criteria are being used to validate progress at several agreed stage gates, then it can take the emotional guessing out of determining whether a project should continue or be killed.
Here for example is a set of validation criteria I developed with a client previously for their pipeline governance process:
If you are interested in learning more about what those criteria for stage gate reviews look like, get in touch and I would be happy to discuss.
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