The world is accelerating, and the distance between idea and execution is dramatically shrinking in terms of time, cost, and complexity. Someday soon we will be able to move near-instantaneously from idea to execution. While this may seem a little Star Trek-ish, already technologies like 3D printers and processes like rapid prototyping are chipping away at the divide between idea and execution, between the digital and physical.
We wanted to know just how far off are we from having our very own Star Trek Replicator (one Earl Grey tea, please), so we took one concept from idea to working prototype as quickly as we could. This is how we created the Fridge of Tomorrow.
During the planning and execution phases of a digital product, service or system, there’s a non-trivial amount of decisions to be made that have long-bearing consequences for the ultimate success of the project, as well as for the ease of its future iterations and additions. Many of these decisions have to do with choosing how and where you’ll ultimately invest a good amount of your budget; the money ear-marked for technical execution.
Digital initiatives can easily rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in hard costs, claiming months of research, planning, and effort. Smart organizations understand the importance of articulating a waterproof foundational strategy for any such venture, backed by a rationale that is anchored in some higher grand business strategy. Yet any actual strategic thinking that gets done in the context of these investments is generally constricted to the planning stage, leaving a significant chunk of the process – the implementation phase – untouched. However, strategy shouldn’t end when the planning docs are signed and delivered; it should be deeply embedded in technical implementation and tactical execution. Read more
The predominant model for managing digital products and services today could be aptly described as “command and control.” Annual planning and top down decision-making structures are the rule rather than the exception. As a result, large groups of people move slowly in lockstep toward a shared vision, while startups run circles around them. It’s an approach I’ve been loosely referring to as “redcoat digital.”
Even the largest budgets for digital projects pale in comparison with the amount spent on operating costs by a blue chip company. As a result, we all strive to do more with less, to make small budgets deliver substantial outcomes. Yet many of us ignore the simplest thing we could do to make our digital budgets work twice as hard by thoroughly accounting and planning for risk.