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Innovation Terms and Methodologies - A Starting Place

There are a lot of innovation-related terms and methodologies that we use in this space that may not be familiar to everyone. Below is our effort to capture and explain some of them.

There are a lot of innovation-related terms and methodologies that we use in this space that may not be familiar to everyone. Below is our effort to capture and explain some of them.

Please note that this is not an all-inclusive list, more of a starting point and the definitions below were compiled from a variety of helpful online sources.

Agile development - an alternative to traditional project management, typically used in software development. It helps teams respond to unpredictability through incremental, iterative work cadences, known as sprints, at the end of which teams must present a potentially shippable product increment. Agile methodologies are an alternative to waterfall, or traditional sequential development. Agile development methodology provides opportunities to assess the direction of a project throughout the development lifecycle.

Design thinking - a method of meeting people's needs and desires in a technologically feasible and strategically viable way.

Functional Prototype - prototypes that can actually do the thing it says it can do, instead of drawing a picture of a website on a piece of paper, use an online tool to make the buttons clickable to mimic the experience.

Innovation - a new idea, device, or method; the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods

Intrapraneur - the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization. It integrates risk-taking and innovation approaches as well as the reward and motivational techniques that are more traditionally thought of as being the province of entrepreneurship.

Kaizen - Kaizen is a way of thinking and organizing everything-from the way you work to the way your team works together. Kaizen means "constant, continuous improvement" or that every aspect of an organization should, at all times, strive to do what it does better. Kaizen aims to eliminate waste in all systems of an organization through improving standardized activities and processes.

Kanban - a model for introducing change through incremental improvements by organizing work using a Kanban board where every work item is posted through the in progress, testing, ready for release, and released columns. There are also various swim lanes - horizontal "pipelines" for different types of work.

Lean - lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources. To accomplish this, lean thinking changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services through the entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets, and departments to customers.

Minimally Viable Product (MVP) - something that is theoretically "live" and in-use. For product projects, this would be the 'coded' version that uses developers.

Pivoting - changing the entire direction of a project. (e.g. instead of building a website, you write policy, or instead of trying to solve the problem of a lab scientist, your solution begins to address the problem of a manager).

Rough and Ready Prototype - the most basic representation of a solution typically created in under an hour and involving sketching on paper, whiteboards, etc.

Scrum - scrum is the most popular way of introducing Agility due to its simplicity and flexibility. Scrum emphasizes empirical feedback, team self-management, and striving to build properly tested product increments within short iterations. Scrum has only three roles: Product Owner, Team, and Scrum Master. The responsibilities of the traditional project manager role are split up among these three Scrum roles.

Six Sigma - Six Sigma and Lean systems have the same goal. They both seek to eliminate waste and create the most efficient system possible, but they take different approaches towards achieving this goal. In simplest terms, the main difference between Lean and Six Sigma is that they identify the root cause of waste differently. Lean practitioners believe that waste comes from unnecessary steps in the production process that do not add value to the finished product, while Six Sigma proponents assert that waste results from variation within the process.

Sprint - a sprint is a set period of time during which specific work has to be completed and made ready for review. After a sprint begins, the product owner must step back and let the team do their work. At the end of the sprint, the team presents its completed work to the project owner and the project owner uses the criteria established at the sprint planning meeting to either accept or reject the work.

Stakeholder Mapping - listing out other entities / people that are in the ecosystem and what their motivations are for being in the ecosystem in order to glean what your particular (unique) role is in that ecosystem and thus can move things forward.

Story Mapping / Storyboarding - the act of drawing out the concrete steps in a process, including who does what exactly.

Test-driven development - a software development process that relies on the repetition of a very short development cycle: first the developer writes an (initially failing) automated test case that defines a desired improvement or new function, then produces the minimum amount of code to pass that test, and finally refactors the new code to acceptable standards.

User-centered design - tries to optimize the product around how users can, want, or need to use the product, rather than forcing the users to change their behavior to accommodate the product. It is a multi-stage problem solving process that not only requires designers to analyze and foresee how users are likely to use a product, but also to test the validity of their assumptions with regard to user behavior in real world tests with actual users at each stage of the production process creating a circle of proof back to and confirming or modifying the original requirements.

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