Everyone in your organization speaks the same language — the language of money. As a tech leader, it’s your job to translate technical details into revenue. But ditching legacy systems for shiny new technical tools isn't the only way to create dominant solutions that bring more money to your organization. Ditching old habits for more productive behaviors is just as powerful.
If you’ve read our book Frictionless Enterprise, you know that sustained innovation is the pinnacle of success and the best way to speak the language of money. After all, everyone in the company can see the impact of a steady stream of market-shaping solutions. Don’t think of sustained innovation as a destination that you arrive at, though. Instead, it’s a way of operating that makes continuously innovating feel so natural you can’t help but achieve it.
There’s a potent force behind continuously delivering innovative solutions — continuous discovery. Think of it as a cycle. If you’re continuously gathering customer feedback, studying product analytics, and testing new functionalities, then using that information to rapidly prototype what’s next, you’ve achieved sustained innovation.
You’ve also achieved faster innovation because continuous discovery is the quickest way to understand your customers’ evolving needs and decide which solutions to prioritize first. Creating a prioritized to-do list is often a major bottleneck for enterprises, which bogs down the entire development lifecycle. But when you’re always discovering, you always deliver on what matters most.
It sounds simple, right? Just commit to a new process and start churning out impactful products. If only it were that easy! Creating a cycle of continuous discovery and continuous delivery is hard because there’s no shortage of friction to steal your momentum.
You don’t have to be afraid to add continuous discovery to your toolkit, though, because we have the secret sauce:
1. Just dive in
There is never a “perfect time” to start a continuous discovery process, so don’t wait. We always say waiting is the worst kind of friction because it starts as a speed bump for your momentum and eventually turns into a full-blown stop. Start building an action plan now, like a weekly schedule for gathering customer feedback and reviewing new prototypes, for example.
2. Hard work? Bring it on!
This must be your mantra because continuous discovery is like any other skill — you won’t master it immediately. Even with a strong action plan, you’ll likely feel like you’re trying way too hard at first. At the same time, you’ll wonder how other organizations do it with ease. It’s no different than struggling to get your golf ball out of the woods and onto the green while watching a pro do it so effortlessly that it’s almost zen-like. Don’t be discouraged, though. As you build up your mental muscle, you’ll do it with ease too.
3. Gear up for a rollercoaster of emotions
It isn’t a lack of ideas that slows down innovation at enterprises — it’s the lack of confidence to act on them. Being bold and disruptive is scary. You’ll feel waves of uncertainty and fear in the beginning, so be prepared for them and focus on building up your team’s confidence. All of the continuous discovery in the world won’t help if you don’t have total confidence that you can build and deliver new solutions without putting your division (or the entire company!) at risk.
4. Chase the outcome, not the metric
Your value stream is where the real… well… value lies. Activity on its own isn’t the right outcome because simply being busy doesn’t guarantee success. You might be really busy gathering weekly customer feedback, but if the questions aren’t quite right, it won’t move the needle. Instead, look at how your people, processes, and technology are coming together across the entire lifecycle of product development.
All of this is designed to remove friction so you can keep the momentum going. As long as you’re always moving forward, you’re creating an environment where you’re harnessing the full power of innovation to win the market.