Can Agile Really Drive Innovation

Many companies realize that traditional product development methodologies limit an organization’s ability to generate breakthrough innovations because of their inflexible approach and experiment-squashing upfront planning. They emphasize linear processes and run in a sequential cycle. While Agile methods are quickly supplanting historic waterfall-style processes with their emphasis on continuous and iterative development, a major complaint often arises, “Since Agile seems to focus on incremental enhancements, how can it be used to drive innovation initiatives that will lead to breakthrough products and major market advantages?”

Read on to explore why innovation is necessary today and how Agile methods can promote an innovative culture with intriguing possibilities and market-leading products.

Why is Innovation Critical?

Technical innovation is now more critical than ever for long-term success. Recent research suggests that about 93% of companies feel innovative technologies can significantly help accelerate their digital transformation. 

Agile has taken over software development with its focus on incremental development and the continuous flow of new features and functions. But few companies have realized that Agile methods, and especially those specifically modified for hardware development, can provide major improvements to innovation efforts leading to a massive market advantage. 

Following are some key characteristics of innovative initiatives:

High uncertainty of outcomes and unpredictable schedules

Innovative measures cannot have measured scopes or fixed schedules. Instead, they are based on learning and experimenting to create unique and relevant advantages that lead to better outcomes and higher value. 

Incremental investment in capital and resources based on milestone-based successes

Unlike traditional product development where whole products and programs are “approved” with full resources, innovation initiatives must have a more flexible funding approach. Very much like startups, businesses must invest resources and capital in projects based on learning and execution-based milestones. Subsequent steps are taken only after specific goals have been achieved. 

A range of deep subject matter experts needed on a part-time basis

Innovative measures yield the best results when experts with relevant experience and sufficient knowledge are engaged. Your B-team will typically not be driving breakthrough innovation, but the experts needed for innovation are often busy on more urgent projects. Innovation projects are often developed using part-time subject-matter experts until the opportunity is proven to justify complete dedication. 

Agile for Hardware: A Better Fit for Innovation

Agile, as defined for software, might not seem an immediate fit for innovation processes, but it can accommodate a learning-based approach so that businesses can better deliver well-researched, breakthrough products and solutions.  

While general Agile practices focus on incremental software features that tend to ignore the hardware aspect, Agile for Hardware is a learning-based approach that provides a more suitable solution for innovation as it considers the needs of physical products too. 

The reasons the Modified Agile for Hardware Development Framework works amazingly well for innovation initiatives are:  

The core of agile for hardware is learning

The foundation of Agile for Hardware is based on continuous experimentation and learning. The iterative nature of Agile is a perfect fit as it keeps the focus on rapid prototyping, exploring value, and allowing necessary adjustments. Furthermore, it includes a cross-disciplinary approach that drives better project clarity and collaborative creativity. 

Drives intelligent funding decisions 

The Agile for Hardware framework includes stakeholders and clients from the project initiation itself. As the innovation development process works through multiple iterative cycles, the team works toward specific milestones and demonstrable results, so at the end of each iteration, reviews for assessing success offer a clear understanding of the progress to guide intelligent funding decisions and the best path forward. 

Ability to adapt quickly 

Whether it’s about adding the right resources or changing the investigation’s direction, Agile allows you to quickly assess the project’s status and pivot with new information. Also, it helps businesses focus on the critical product attributes that will deliver the most value and reduces the overall concept to results duration. 

MAHD Framework Supports Agile Innovation

The Modified Agile for Hardware Development approach offers a robust framework for innovative initiatives based on intelligent strategies. It widens the scope of product development with IPAC iterations that revolve around Integration, Prototype, Alignment, and Customer engagement. Thus, it also accommodates both physical products as well as system solutions that include both hardware and software features. Therefore, the MAHD Framework can be a differentiator and aid businesses with higher rates of innovation and more valuable solutions. 

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