Non-linear Innovation Process
Lateral thinking aid for multi-year project management
What is a non-linear innovation process?
A linear process has never led to innovation success. A step-by-step thinking process would limit the brain’s capacity, so complex thoughts can’t be composed. Squeezing Innovation into a step-by-step process is like asking a football players to follow a process where every move is programmed and if the other player moves they can lookup a table to find how their next move should be.
Non-Linear processes can do two things simultaneously:
1) Spontaneous ideas or insights.
Innovation teams can handle an idea relevant to the future or outside the current steps by accessing any part of the innovation journey at any time. That may be a bit disturbing for people who are used to focusing on the here and now and may get confused when others work in other spaces of a project. If necessary, they can also add content in past episodes that may force a team to go back and revisit everything they have done so far. That may be a bit painful right now – but nothing compared to failing and starting from scratch later on.
2) Structured future influence.
The second non-linear process can influence the future by reaching out to a part of a process that may come a year later.
The chart shows the principle without going into too much detail. During each episode of the innovation process, summaries from past episodes need to be reviewed to ensure everything that was built and based on even previous decisions are still in line with what is done in the current episode. Any divergence from the original direction need to be discussed. Also, advice for future episodes needs to be given. Innovation teams can handle lateral thinking by using an intelligent system that manages the administration of past and future activities.