The Good Lab

What 'innovation lab' means to Good Lab

10 November 2016

By Thomas .

What 'innovation lab' means to Good Lab

The original article can be found here

1. It wasn't really an innovation lab: A lot of innovation labs are well designed to spark the creative juices of the people who work there. However, very few labs are designed to search and find profitable business models for the ideas being generated.

One thing we are very focused on at Good Lab is making sure that the business cases add up. We have dedicated resource working with the experts in the relevant fields to ensure that the business cases not only make sense now, but also make sense in 2026. We could come up with the most creative, inventive concept, but if it doesn't have the potential to deliver £250m annually for the charitable sector then we won't pursue it.

2. Lack of strategic alignment: A lot of innovation labs that get shut down are often working on projects that are not aligned to the parent company's strategic goals. 

This one is clear, Good Innovation work with organisations that do good to help them grow. Our partners are organisations that do good. Our main objective is to help them grow through the greatest period of uncertainty the sector has ever seen by designing new ways to fund the life changing work they do.

3. Lack of focus: Innovation labs need to have a strategic focus to stop innovators jumping from unconnected idea to unconnected idea.

This is where the power of collaboration comes to the fore; we work with our charity partners, our board of advisors and fellows, the team at Good Innovation, sector leading experts and forward-thinking organisations to continually stretch and develop our work, ensuring we stay on track to deliver on our commercial goal. We are firm believers that nothing should be developed in a vacuum.

4. It's mostly innovation theatre: Business model canvases, post-its, lean start-up books, whiteboards, minimum viable products, co-creation sessions. We've heard it all before but does it actually mean anything?

We use and talk about all of the above at Good Lab, but we'll always use the best tool or best methodology for the what we're trying to achieve, sometimes that might be a business model canvas, other times just a mere sheet of A4 paper and a ruler. We'll never use fancy tools/words/methodologies to try and impress.

5. Show me the money: Most labs that get closed have made zero contribution to company revenues in the last three years. Ask the innovation managers what they have been doing, they will reel off a bunch of activity and vanity metrics; events hosted, press mentions, number of customer conversations and number of hackathons. Number of validated business models? Zero. Number of validated business models taken to scale? Zero.

Our metrics are clear – £250m is the target. Across our 3 year plan we will aim to run through 12 cycles, potentially resulting in 24 validated business propositions – some will work some will fail, that's nature of innovation, but we will definitely deliver.

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