A guide to embracing uncertainty in innovation

Person standing in front of risky path

Navigating innovation and uncertainty.

The word Innovation conjures excitement and the promise of groundbreaking transformation. But it comes with unavoidable companions: uncertainty and risk. Perhaps it's not as dramatic as bear traps and shark-infested waters, but the path to innovation certainly has its risks. In this article, we break down how and when to push the envelope.

Looking for even more perspective? We brought 30 product leaders together to discuss their biggest challenges, including Encouraging Experimentation & Risk.

download the full insights reporthere


Define boundaries.

Before embarking on your path to innovation, establish the non-negotiables. Consider where you are realistically willing to gamble and what must remain untouched.

Boundaries


In our Discovery process, we ask clients to share their “sacred cows", the things that are off-limits due to legal, financial, or technical constraints.


This focus ensures innovation aligns with your reality.

Welcome all ideas, then filter.

Innovation can underwhelm when it is seen as the job of one group (or a single person). It creates a pressure cooker of stress and anxiety, and leads to missed opportunities. Good ideas can come from anywhere, so it is important to invite everyone to the table.

Define a process to objectively filter ideas, regardless of their origin, and then determine which filters are best for your organization. Keep in mind, they can be as lightweight as:

  • How does the idea help the business?
  • Who is the right group internally to tackle this?
  • What are the timeline considerations?
  • Have we validated the underlying problem this idea is solving?
  • What is the size of the potential opportunity?


This approach helps identify some of the risks upfront, and nurtures a culture where the best ideas shine, regardless of where they come from.

People discussing together

Connect innovation and business objectives.

Arrow hitting a target

Sometimes even the best ideas are met with resistance. Stakeholders may be unwilling to accept the uncertainty associated with an idea because they do not have the right metrics to see the value.

Decision-makers are more likely to buy into an idea when it meets an agreed-upon standard, so ensure your vetting process captures the information they care about. Then, showcase how your innovation aligns with your organization's big-picture goals.

This alignment converts doubt into enthusiastic support.

Leverage insights.

Once an idea makes it through vetting, start gathering your data. Consider what uncertainties still need to be addressed, how confident you need to be at this stage, and how quickly you need answers.

Choose research methods that provide the insights needed to prioritize the idea accordingly and help you move forward confidently. Research can be the x-factor, so use it.


When to take the leap.

Illustration of someone diving into water

Embrace uncertainty:

✨ When your idea doesn't violate core constraints
✨ When it aligns seamlessly with your established criteria
✨ When it resonates with your organization's business objectives
✨ When research supports the next steps

We can often become paralyzed by risk and uncertainty–never moving forward because the thoughts of what could go wrong overshadow the amazing possibilities. But with the right approach and processes in place, the path to innovation isn't so scary. You can see the bear traps and sharks ahead, making it easier to plan for them.

What's next?

Ready to take the leap? We're here to navigate with you. Whether it's refining ideas, optimizing your approach, or avoiding those snake pits and bear traps, reach out and let's navigate the path together.


Have a project you’re working on and need some support? Reach out to us.

Do you just want to chat about product, UX, research, process, and methodologies? We’re down for that too. Let's chat.

Ellie Koewler

Ellie Koewler

Subscribe

Receive a boost of imagination with insight around building more human experiences every few weeks.

Share
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Currently exploring

UX Mastery

0
ZoCollection
UX Mastery
Illustration of someone swinging a lasso
UX Mastery
When is a research panel right for your organization?
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
UX Mastery
Illustration of someone investigating foot prints
UX Mastery
What we learned testing AI in our UX Research process.
Tuesday, January 23, 2024
UX Mastery
Illustration of a human-centered solar system
UX Mastery
What is a "product-led" organization?
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
UX Mastery
Illustration of someone putting trash into a trash can
UX Mastery
Stopping Solution Pollution
Thursday, January 4, 2024
UX Mastery
Product Invitational Logo
UX Mastery
ZoCo Product Invitational: Initial Reactions
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Subscribe
Subscribe
Subscribe
Subscribe
Subscribe
Subscribe

For those seeking to build more human experiences

Explore
close button
Everything
0
Collections
Topics
Insights
0
0
0
0
0
0
Videos
0
0
0
0
0
0
Events
0
0
0
0
0
0
Work
0
0
0
0
0
0
News
0
0
0
0
0
0
Culture
0
0
0
0
0
0
Subscribe to our Curious Communications
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.