Fail Fast, Iterate and Succeed
The speed at which the market is evolving today compels organizations to be rapid and agile in their responses. The ability to quickly create new products and offerings, to fail fast and to adopt an iterative approach to design are an important part of the innovation process.
However, most technologists who lead these innovation programs, including those who subscribe to Agile methodologies today, once used to follow the waterfall model of software development. The model may have been replaced from practice, but it takes longer to take it out of our thinking process.
This is why it is important to maintain smaller incubation cycles in the innovation programs. The longer development cycles have a tendency of making the teams revert into waterfall mode of thinking and planning; often without even realizing.
A good thumb rule to follow is to ensure that any incubation does not go beyond a maximum of 12 weeks. Shorter cycles of less than 12 weeks (ideally 8 to 10 weeks) make it easier to stay with the agile, iterative model. In case there is a need for longer cycles, it may be advisable to break the scope into smaller chunks. Smaller incubation cycles are more effective and allow for solutions that work better and are more in tune with the problem statement.