Quitting doesn’t enter my mind.
– Jimmy Buffett
Unlike the popular folklore associated with a “never give up” attitude, knowing when to call it a day on a particular project is important in the real world. It’s not that you need to give up attempting to bring new innovations to market, but rather some ideas just aren’t meant to be. If you don’t have a criteria for shutting down projects, your organization will end up spreading resources too thin. What is important here is the understanding that shutting down a project is part of the innovation process; not everything sees the light of day. While financial milestones are an important part of the process, innovation projects require a bit more.
What might a quitting criteria look like?:
No Pleasant Surprises
The absence of pleasant surprise is a signal that something isn’t working. If the innovation idea or proposal really represents a novel value creation opportunity, there’ll be coincidences sprinkled amidst the inevitable unpleasantness. Those “small wins” may not look or feel like much but they signal new opportunities for exploitation and advancement.1)https://hbr.org/2013/09/three-signs-that-you-should-kill-an-innovative-idea/
Lack of Insights
As your projects progress through versions and user tests, are you getting a better understanding of your proposed value proposition and how it’s viewed?2)http://www.innovationcoach.com/2011/04/04/value-proposition-the-key-to-successful-innovation/ If you aren’t learning more about the market’s real needs, you might want to reconsider whether the project is actually innovative. Over the course of an innovation project, you should expect to see a change in the original idea.
Lack of Customer Engagement
It’s easy for anyone to tell you that they love an idea but you shouldn’t use that as the metric for pushing a project ahead. What you want to see is how they engage with a prototype during user testing. Indifference to your project should signify its death. You would rather that users dislike your prototype alterations because that means you were initially doing something they approved. Most importantly, they want the innovation to succeed not because of you, your team or your company but because it makes their life easier and they appreciate the values your projected innovation represents.3)https://www.visioncritical.com/3-ways-customer-engagement-drives-innovation-and-reduces-churn/
In parting, we’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from Kenny Rogers, who immortalized the concept of knowing when to quit.
References [ + ]