What Is Viability - Another Core Component In The Journey From Idea To Solution?

At the start of the month I wrote about Innovation being a journey from Epiphany to Empowerment. I then followed it up with the evaluation of ideas against desirability. Today we focus on the company, and talk about Viability.

Viability focuses only on the organisation or the company that has come up with the idea. It’s a test with an inward focus. Typical questions we answer here include ‘is this the right product for us?’, ‘do we have the resources (time, money, skills,) to do this?’, ‘will this have a nett positive impact or nett negative impact on the company?’

This is an impartial and unbiased assessment of the company’s capabilities with regards to technology, financial strength, culture, perception, resources, upstream and downstream partnerships and the impact of said product on the company amongst other things. Let’s look at the first three of these items briefly.

Technological Capability: The two focus areas here are technical and technological expertise, and the application of this technology. For example, the technological capability/expertise of McDonald’s is preparing and serving food, but the area of application is in the fast food sector as opposed to gourmet dining.

Financial Strength: This is not just the ability to invest money into the venture, but the ability to survive the failure of the product/solution with minimal damage to the bank balance. For example, when Sony released the Betamax format for video recording and playback, they were beaten by the VHS format introduced by JVC. However, despite this failure, Sony survived.

Culture: Innovation doesn’t happen by accident. Innovation is a result of the culture of companies which enable, encourage and empower the people to express themselves without fear of being looked down upon. For example, it’s well documented that 3M has a policy which states ca.30% of its revenue has to come from products developed in the last 3 years and that employees are allowed to work on their ideas for up to 15% of the time.