Rethinking the Corporation: The Digital Innovation Lifecycle Part 2

In our first post in this series, we argued that the traditional departmental corporate form (i.e. sales, marketing, finance, ops, IT, etc.), universally applied, and virtually unchanged for over two centuries, is killing innovation in leading corporations around the world. We noted that to compete, corporations must rethink the way they organize, fund, and execute. From the way companies develop strategy, serve customers, and attract employees, to the way they create and manage work product, digital is driving the need for innovation.

Digital Innovation

We observed that work itself is changing in three important ways:

  1. The way work product is created
  2. How business issues are communicated and discussed
  3. The way consensus is formed

We concluded by proposing the Digital Innovation Lifecycle–a new framework for driving innovation, speed, and agility out of the organization–as an alternative method for managing work in the enterprise.

In this post, we’ll dig into the Digital Innovation Lifecycle itself, and break it down into some more manageable components. To that end, we begin at the very center of the diagram with “Productivity and Collaboration.”

Digital Innovation Lifecycle

The way we produce and collaborate to create work product is changing in dramatic ways. Tools like Google’s G Suite make it possible for the heartbeat and brain power of the organization to be marshaled together as a single force. These tools make the exchange of ideas frictionless, and have the power to move an organization to consensus rapidly–all key elements of the agility necessary to innovate. Productivity and collaboration tools are to an innovative corporation what blood veins are to the human body. The nutrients for growth, the antibodies to fight disease, and the oxygen needed for healthy function all flow through the circulatory system. The Digital Innovation Lifecycle is powered end-to-end by frictionless collaboration.

Thinking and Planning in the Innovative Corporation

The left-hand side of the diagram, with its elements arranged like the 5-side of a dice, is the “thinking and planning” (TAP) part of the lifecycle and includes five key topics:

Strategy: Thinking and Planning A course of action to be undertaken in order to achieve a specific, measurable result.

User Research: Direct feedback, observations, and other data received by direct interaction with customers or users obtained through a variety of techniques.

Quantitative Insight: Data science, analytics, and other quantitative data and analysis designed to parameterize key performance indicators.

Internet of Things: A network of devices that collect and transmit sensor and other data from corporate assets, wherever they may be.

Location: Data about where and when something occurs that can give context to and drive deeper meaning from quantitative insight.

Thinking and Planning (TAP)These skills, data, and assets can work elegantly together to allow the innovative company to make better products, as well as respond more rapidly and more effectively to the operating environment. The TAP cycle has two separate loops which will be covered in detail in future posts:

  1. The upside down triangle reflects the idea that strategy guides user research and the learning from user research often reframes strategy, while quantitative insight informs strategy and user research.
  2. Quantitative insight is augmented by environmental and sensor data and informed by location (the triangle on the right).

Doing and Creating in the Innovative Corporation

Doing and Creating (DAC)The baseball diamond of topics on the right of the Digital Innovation Lifecycle is the “doing and creating” (DAC) domain. In this loop, we integrate product management concepts with agility, experience design, and change management.

Product Orientation: Customers, employees, and vendors are increasingly interacting through digital products (websites, mobile apps, other digital assets). In turn, innovative companies need to treat these touch points as products to which the tools and techniques of product management in a software context can be applied.

Agility: An approach to software development that incorporates shorter delivery time frames, and the delivery of working software, in two to four week increments. The approach values collaboration and is responsive to changing circumstances and environments.

Experience Design: Great software products incorporate design thinking concepts. Making products that are beautiful, elegant, and easy to use, while meeting business objectives are the key watchpoints for this discipline.

Change Management: Organizational change is hard. Gaining organizational alignment of business goals and actions undertaken are critical to the success of digital transformation activities. Change management skills and discipline must be integrated into all product lifecycles and plans.

The elements of the DAC process work together to ensure responsiveness to a changing environment and the necessary flexibility to deliver the product incrementally over time.


To compete, corporations must rethink the way they organize, fund, and execute. As digital products become more sophisticated, more analytical, and more social, the multidisciplinary skills required for creating them will increasingly run contrary to the way corporations manage work and solve problems. The Digital Innovation Lifecycle is a new way of thinking about solving business problems, generating growth, and innovating. It requires that the business, technology, and design of the services and solutions corporations provide customers, employees, and vendors combine all of the disciplines of the corporation in new and innovative ways.

In upcoming posts, we will break down each of these clusters of capability into more detail. We’ll discuss the two different loops of the “thinking and planning” cycle as well as the inner workings of “doing and thinking” in an innovative corporation. Additionally, we’ll discuss how organizations can implement the Digital Innovation Lifecycle to drive innovation in the digital age.

About the Author

Brian Farrar
Brian Farrar
Brian Farrar is a partner and founder of the firm with over 25 years of consulting, technology, and investment banking experience. Prior to Maven Wave, Farrar spent 7 years in technology investment banking. Mr. Farrar has completed merger and capital raising transactions in excess of $2 billion. Farrar served as President/COO of Xpedior Incorporated (NASDAQ: XPDR) a technology consultancy with over $200 million in revenues and 1600 consultants. Farrar also served as President and CEO of Metamor Technologies, a systems integration and software consulting firm with revenues in excess of $80 million. Farrar’s consulting work has achieved recognition by USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, CIO, and Wired magazine. Farrar is a published author with 6 books on technology related topics distributed in 6 languages worldwide.
January 30th, 2017

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