Darrell Rigby: Agile Innovation



What makes innovation programs succeed? Darrell Rigby, who leads Bain's Global Innovation practice, discusses how Agile innovation teams can help companies quickly pivot to take advantage of market opportunities.

Read the Bain Brief: Agile Innovation

Read the transcript below.

DARRELL RIGBY: If you study the successes and failures of innovation programs long enough, you'll find two pretty interesting things. The first is, sadly, 70% to 90% of those innovation programs will fail. But secondly, you will find—and this is really quite interesting—if you focus on those successes, you'll find that 2/3 of those successes pivot or adapt or change significantly from their original concept.

So, for example, YouTube was originally conceived to be an online video dating site. It just didn't work out very well. And so they learned that if they allowed those people to share all kinds of videos, then it turned out to be very successful. And that's what we're trying to do with Agile innovation teams.

We are trying to build teams that attack market opportunities the same way those successful start-ups do. And that means we're forming small, multidisciplinary, entrepreneurial, very adaptive teams. We're putting them right in the middle of corporate headquarters.

And then we're saying, take these complex tasks, break them into smaller components that you can attack on a modular basis, sequence those so that you are only working on the highest priorities 100% of the time, build rapid prototypes, get those in front of customers so that you can learn as quickly as possible what works and what doesn't work, and then adapt.

And what we're finding is those teams are remarkably successful. They tend to increase the success rates of innovations by 250% to 500%. We know that customers are more satisfied with the work of those teams, and we know that the teams themselves are happier and more productive. There just aren't that many opportunities for executives to improve all three of those things at the same time. They should find ways to do more of this.

Read the Bain Brief: Agile Innovation