In today’s highly competitive business environment with shortened product and technology life cycles, it is essential for both airlines and their technology suppliers to continuously innovate. And at speed.
Before we delve into new thinking on the process of innovation and how it might be applied by airlines and other companies in the travel ecosystem, let us first consider what innovation is or how it might look.
Innovation is What Exactly?
Innovation is about novelty and new ideas, about how we might create new products or services, business models or processes. Innovation is considered a key success factor and enables a business to dictate and modify the ‘rules of the game’ to achieve and sustain a competitive advantage.
Airlines that fail to embrace innovation, or more importantly continuous innovation, tend to suffer at the hands of new entrants or competitors that embrace innovation as a core component of their culture.
Innovation is a Fragile Thing
Over many years at OpenJaw Technologies, we have continued to get better at finding and developing new ideas that help us solve big problems for the both the travel industry in general as well as for many of our leading airline customers such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Hainan Airlines.
What makes this really difficult to do is that innovation is a fragile thing. You have to strike a balance between weird creativity and serendipitous discovery while at the same time having the right amount of structure to ensure that innovation becomes a repeatable and consistent process.
The Google Ventures Design Sprint
As part of our systematic innovation process within OpenJaw Technologies, we have recently deployed a new methodology called the Google Ventures Design Sprint to enable our teams to innovate at speed (http://bit.ly/TheDesignSprint-GV).
The Design Sprint is a unique process for solving big problems and testing new ideas in just five days. Critical business questions can be answered through design, prototyping and testing ideas with customers. Developed at Google Ventures, it’s a powerful combination of business strategy, innovation, behavioral science, design thinking and more that has been packaged into a battle-tested process that any team, in any industry, can use.
How the Design Sprint Works
On Monday, the team will map out the problem and pick an important place to focus. On Tuesday, the team will sketch competing solutions on paper. On Wednesday, the team will make difficult decisions and turn their ideas into a testable hypothesis. On Thursday, the team will hammer out a realistic prototype. And on Friday, the team will test it with real live humans.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is an easy week at the office; Design Sprints are intense and have a real deadline with real customers to review your efforts on Friday.
The Avoidance of Group-Think and Transitioning to a New Mindset
By working together in such a sprint, airline organisations can shortcut the endless group-think discussions and compress months of time into a single week. Instead of waiting to launch a minimal product to understand if an idea is any good, you’ll get clear data from a realistic prototype. Think about fast forwarding into the future to see your finished product and customer reactions, before making any expensive commitments.
Finally, think about how such a sprint methodology can help to transition the innovation mindset within your organisation.
Now that is innovation at speed. Go try!