From Pipelines to Portfolios to Platforms
“Maximum innovative output occurs when innovative contributors believe that they have absolute freedom to contribute ideas to new projects [i.e., increased autonomy], while top management believes that it remains in complete control – both at the same time.”
How do you resolve this seeming conundrum? The author suggests you do it with portfolios of platforms, not projects. The difference is subtle but profound.
A platform can be thought of as a ‘bowling lane’ in which innovation is wide open, autonomous and fully supported, but executives have full control and authority over what the bowling lane is.
Each ‘bowling lane’ contains a cluster of projects supported by a platform of shared affinities and resources. Innovation teams can be given complete autonomy within the lanes and can be more ‘out of control’ in what they try as they quickly learn from their direct interactions with the market.
The author claims that this is the next wave of innovation that will make organizations ‘anti-fragile’. Is he right?
The whole topic of platforms is a relatively unexplored and unexploited aspect of innovation design. Platforms abound, from Apple iOS to Polyurethane, but the research and science behind innovating new platforms and effectively using existing platforms to innovate is lacking. The author doesn’t directly address these issues but does offer a glimpse of what the future could be with a focus on platforms rather than projects.