Managing an innovative projects focus on
- Reducing uncertainty by planning
- Creating hypotheses
- Get into action mode quickly to confirm or reject hypotheses
- Convert hypotheses into knowledge – Discovery
- Path to the discovery
The first step is the coming up with hypotheses on
- Business model
Each hypothesis will be tracked on following topics
- Its basis
- Its effort estimation
- Its owner
- Its progress
Critical hypotheses will also be identified that can affect several elements, has an important effect on performances, the feasibility of the project, important investments.
Milestones will also be planned where the main hypotheses will be discussed. For each milestone, there will be a target fixed – the hypotheses and the costs etc. Each milestone is used to validate at least one hypothesis, each hypothesis must be validated at least with one milestone, e.g. a critical milestone is used to validate a critical hypothesis.
From a hypothesis, design an experiment to
- Measure the gaps
- learn and rephrase the hypothesis
- Move to the next one
Eric Ries recommends multiple of these learning loops and the reduction of their cost. These experiments require a minimum viable product that can be demonstrated. It isn’t a prototype, it is much simpler. The idea is to experiment the functionalities as soon as possible.
With early adopters accepting faults and actively participating to improve the product, you mustn’t specify it precisely, but let the missing features be underlined by negative feedbacks.
So you must organise these experiments early on and experiment often reduces the cost, set back the commitment of important and irreversible costs and multiply the methods to acquire knowledge. In other words, managing an innovative project is going the traditional way of project management but taking the uncertainties into account.
The structured and systematic approach should be followed. It is even more necessary in the case of an innovative project as cognitive bias have been identified by psychologists working on creators of innovative businesses and innovative project managers.
We often keep in mind information reinforcing the chosen hypotheses, reject information challenging these hypotheses. We tend to forget the hypothetical nature and the fragile baselines, overestimate success and undervalue risks.
We become optimistic and it is a good point. The role of managing tools of innovative projects is to go along with this optimism but through the structured and thorough tools leaving any bias
In the closing remarks, managing an innovative project means to work on three areas
- Grow knowledge and reduce uncertainties using multiple experiments
- Build cohesion within the team
- Bring common direction as the team may change as the project grows
Please share your experience or ideas how we can manage these kinds of projects.