Unlocking Innovation and Value: A Summary of SRI's Five Disciplines of Innovation (5DOI)


Innovation is a key driver of growth and value creation. It is a complex process that requires a systematic approach to be successful. SRI International, a nonprofit research institute, has developed a framework for innovation called the Five Disciplines of Innovation (5DOI). This framework provides a systematic approach to innovation that can be applied to any organization or industry.

SRI’s Five Disciplines of Innovation (5DOI) and Value Creation Process

Note: SRI stands for Stanford Research Institute

First, one should start defining what Innovation is. For SRI, it means:

The creation and delivery of new customer value in the marketplace with a sustainable business model for the enterprise.

It is also important to highlight that for SRI, Innovation is a process, not an event.

(Innovation) is a disciplined, continuous improvement process with a focus on creating customer value.

So, what are the 5 disciplines of Innovation?

Discipline 1: Need (Important Needs)

You need to know who the customer is and why would the customer take out their wallet and give you their money.

If you are trying to innovate (bring something new to the marketplace), you need to know who the customer is and why is the customer compelled to solve that problem now. This means focusing on an important market need, not an interesting one.

There should be a sense of urgency to solve a particular need.

Discipline 2: Value (Value creation)

You need to be able to explain yourself and your value proposition to the one you want to sell it to (investor, customer, team, etc.)

The template for the Elevator Pitch has, according to SRI, the following parts:

  1. a hook: to get their interest
  2. a core: you NABC value proposition (check below)
  3. a close: action to get to the next step

NABC or How to create a value proposition (Value Creation)

NABC is an acronym for Need, Approach, Benefits, Competition. It is a way to structure your value proposition and to make sure you are communicating the right information.

Each letter represents a question:

Need: What is the need you are trying to solve?

Approach: How are you going to solve it?

Benefits: What are the benefits of your approach?

Competition: What is the competition doing?

Value Creation Forum process

This is a lot like 6 Thinking hats, from Edward de Bono (1985) (which is a topic for another post).

The idea is to have a structured way of providing feedback. This is very useful for example in a PITCH or the discussion of an Idea.

A PITCH is a presentation of an idea, a project, a product, etc. It is usually done to get funding, but it can also be done to get feedback, to get buy-in, to get support, etc. It should be short and to the point.

When you give a PITCH, presentation or similar, you are expecting SMART Feedback. (We will get back to it later).

For the feedback to be valuable, it has to be structured and understood. For this the following roles are needed, according to SRI:

  • Green Hat: only good, what is working and is successful in the pitch.
  • Red Hat: What would I like to see more of, what can be improved.
  • Eyes of the customer: Customer's perspective
  • White Hats: What would a founder or the decision maker need to hear to fund or make the final decision?

Discipline 3: Champion (Innovation Champions)

You need to identify and encourage champions.

Even if you have a great story, for an innovation to get into the market, someone has to be the champion. This champion has to have passion and drive.

You recognize a champion by their behavior. They are extra-energetic people and can bend the rules a little bit to make the time.

Why is this important? Because if you don't have a champion, the innovation will not happen. You need someone to push the project forward and does everything in his power to make it happen. This person should be well-connected (internally) and resourceful.

Discipline 4: Team (Innovation Team)

If you are going to have a successful innovation process, on a repeated basis, you need to have programs and processes to form teams and to encourage teams to work together.

Even if you have a champion, they cannot do everything by themselves. They need a team with the right skills and focus.

This team should be able to work together and have the right level of expertise to reach the goals and place the innovation in the market. They should also be open-minded and willing to learn from their mistakes.

Remember: this is a process, not a one-time event.

There will be mistakes and failures, and the team should be able to keep moving forward when this happens and adapt to the new situation. Even if this means changing the product, the concept, or starting again from another point.

Level of expertise matches the level of ambition.

You cannot have a non-experienced team working on a high-ambition project. This will most likely fail and cause frustration in the team. You need a balanced team with the right level of expertise for the project.

Discipline 5: Organization (Organizational Alignment)

An innovation needs the support of the organization.

Organizational alignment. The organization should have procedures in place to support innovation and not squash it. For example, objections because a new Idea might threaten an existing business might hinder innovation.

Final Thoughts

These disciplines are thought as being multiplicative. This means that if one of them is 0 (zero) then your odds of success are 0. You need all of them for this to work.

It is also important to note that an innovation could put another business inside your organization out of business, or it could also be in development in another company which may do it faster and better than yourself. You should be aware of this and be prepared to react to it.



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