Innovation is the driver of societal progress. Without it, stakeholders and organizations alike aren’t able to improve their conditions. However, “innovation” in itself is a hard concept to grasp. What counts as “innovative,” and why? Who should be the subject of our efforts to innovate? Is there a more innovative solution than the one we’re coming up with?
These are all important questions to ask when trying to innovate.
And this is why every innovation team should use a prioritization framework.
This article will look into what a prioritization framework is and why teams should use it to innovate today.
What Is a Prioritization Framework?
A prioritization framework is a list of rules and processes for the team to come up with a prioritized sequence of ideas. It keeps them focused on their mission, but allows for thinking outside the box too.
Prioritization frameworks are meant to help teams find signals through the noise. This is because there are so many items to check off when building something new that a team needs a way to filter out the unnecessary. It ensures that the team’s time and effort are being spent in a way that has the greatest chance to deliver useful insights.
A prioritization framework can be either formal or informal. A formal framework is one where the rules, criteria, and processes for generating ideas, assessing them, and determining their order have been explicitly defined. An informal prioritization framework is one where the rules, criteria, and processes of ideas generation and assessment have not been explicitly defined.
An informal prioritization framework can be based on gut-feel or a person’s personal opinion about which data point or insight should be considered first. Although this may sometimes work, it is difficult to scale an informal prioritization framework across larger teams.
How Prioritization Frameworks Turn Ideas into Reality
A team’s job is to come up with as many ideas as possible, which means that they will generate a massive number of ideas. However, if teams don’t follow brainstorming with some sort of assessment, they will not be able to identify the ideas that are most valuable.
Vetting the merit of ideas is important when innovating because it allows the team to pick the best idea. It also helps organize and prioritize which ideas are explored first. After assessing ideas, teams can then iterate on them continually. Instead of generating a large number of ideas at one time, they can focus on one or two great ones. This saves their time and results in more value for stakeholders.
Prioritization does just that – they help teams come up with a vetting system for everyone’s ideas.
What Is an Example of a Prioritization Framework?
An example of a prioritization framework that innovation teams should consider is the RICE method.
The RICE method is a prioritization framework rooted in product management. “RICE” stands for reach, impact, confidence, and effort. In use, product managers take those four elements and place them in a math equation (the RICE score) – multiplying the first three letters together and dividing its product by “effort”.
The metrics for RICE can be anything that the product team values as worthy of being measured. “Reach”, for example, can be measured as the amount of users a product acquires per month.
The RICE method is useful for innovation professionals because of the way it forces teams to question their product’s key value proposition. By asking builders to think about which components are most valuable, RICE pushes them to innovate in ways they might not have otherwise considered.
It’s not only useful for measuring the impact of one product, but RICE is also useful for comparing the impact of many different initiatives. It’s recommended to calculate the RICE score of several initiatives and compare them to each other before deciding on which project should be completed. That way organizations can better understand what really has the most impact on their stakeholders.
The RICE method is a prioritization framework that doesn’t have to exclusively be used for building products. Innovation professionals across industries can calculate RICE scores when comparing any initiative that benefits stakeholders.
How Can Companies Use Prioritization Frameworks to Innovate?
Companies can use prioritization frameworks to innovate by making sure that all ideas are heard but not all ideas are acted upon. This ensures that the best possible ideas will be developed and maintained, while limiting the number of bad, unnecessary or time-consuming ones.
By starting with the right prioritization framework, organizations can increase the number of ideas from certain stakeholders and ensure that innovation is measured across all departments. It can be challenging to know which prioritization framework to use if your team has never used one before. It is recommended that your team experiments with different prioritization frameworks before decidedly using only one.
Why Is Measuring Innovation Important?
We’ve been discussing the importance of prioritization frameworks, but let’s dig deeper: why is measuring innovation important?
Organizations across all fields should proactively measure innovation because measuring innovation can be a valuable way to help measure an organization’s performance, determining the results of past decisions and also predicting future performance. Performance is subjective to the organization’s values – some organizations value reaching revenue targets more than societal impact, or vice-versa. Either way, performance is an indicator of how much the organization is innovating.
It is clear that stakeholders are better off when organizations utilize prioritization frameworks. It’s arguably the most organized way of creating innovation for everyone who needs it.