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Innovation Is Easier Said than Done

16 July 2015

Rick Regueira
IPC Subway

Generating new ideas: How does innovation work for me? Below are nine ways to become more innovative within your Scrum team:
  1. Create an environment for generating ideas. Early in the morning seems to be the best time for me to come up with new ideas. My mind is clear. I do not have anything obstructing my thoughts, and I can concentrate clearly. I like to have a piece of paper close by just in case I want to record my ideas.
  2. Identify a pain point. Start by thinking about the specific area of interest. For example, how can technology help with the Subway restaurant experience? I think about each person and his or her biggest pain points. Identify and focus on the one major pain point that you want to improve.
  3. Gain insight from different perspectives. Look at the pain point from different perspectives: customers, restaurant owner, sandwich artist, or manager. I visualize each perspective in my mind, one at a time, and quickly write my ideas on paper. Ideas can come from various sources: previous experience, imagination, and creative activities.
  4. Organize your thoughts. After this complete brain dump, I then revisit and clean up my writing. I work on parsing my ideas into a logical grouping or chronological order that helps create clarity. Keep it simple. Use bullet items, if possible, with a short explanation for each.
  5. Conduct a preliminary search. Determine whether the idea(s) already exists.
  6. Share the idea. Share the new idea with a diverse audience to get feedback (pros and cons). If you believe in and are committed to your vision, you have to be tough and not always accept all the negative feedback. Keep in mind that it is only someone's opinion. Sharing your idea with other people takes courage. The feedback is not a personal attack on you. You have to feel comfortable saying things that are not fully vetted and may be incorrect. Most people who take negative feedback personally and feel rejected have a hard time trusting or sharing any other ideas. However, sharing your thoughts with others can inspire you to generate new ideas or complement existing ones. It is common, that from a brain dump of ideas, 80 percent are throwaways. Don't get discouraged; persistency counts.
  7. Plan the work. Now is the time to be Agile and plan your work. You have a higher success rate if you recruit people who are cross-functional, eager, and excited about your idea. Work with the team to prioritize your ideas, and concentrate on the one that you feel will give the biggest impact.
  8. Execute on the idea. Be iterative with constant feedback, continue improvement, and embrace change. Don't be discouraged by early failure; this can be overcome with additional refinement of the idea. The most difficult part about innovation is making your ideas come to fruition. Many people have great ideas, but they just don't follow through with them. Keeping the team motivated and focused is imperative.
  9. Celebrate the small successes. Any time there's learning is a good time to celebrate.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

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