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What is Rapid-Cycle Innovation?

Companies that have successfully stayed afloat, even thrived during the last year, have invested time and resources in practices that have allowed them to remain competitive, connect with consumers on a more meaningful level and maintain a high level of innovation.

Digital improvements have been around embracing remote workspaces, improving workflow efficiency through automation where possible, and creating secure environments to work effectively with privacy and compliance.

Yet still, it’s not enough. Gaps remain in practice. Small steps that could dramatically improve a company’s business processes long-term are often overlooked in favor of a significant change to stay agile in an unpredictable marketplace.

That’s where rapid-cycle innovation comes in.

Rapid-Cycle Innovation Defined

Rapid-cycle innovation is a strategy of identifying and addressing quick ways to improve processes and yield rapid results. Typically running concurrently with greater digital transformation efforts, this kind of innovation relies on the expertise of those working within the day-to-day operations at a company as staff identifies ways to modernize or automate workflows in incremental ways to lead to short-term but still meaningful gains.

How Rapid-Cycle Innovation Can Improve a Business

Rapid-cycle innovation is a key component in long-term growth for a business, as it addresses small, incremental changes that can lead to some quick wins at an organization.

Improved Efficiency

Operations adjustments are often focused on identifying business inefficiencies, an area where small changes can make a big difference in how a company is using its time and resources. For example, improvements that find ways to cut time for a product to get from the production phase into a consumer’s hands make a company more efficient and improve customer satisfaction and overall service delivery.

Incremental changes can happen more quickly than company-wide digital transformation efforts, leading to process improvements that can happen alongside those broad changes. 

Cost Savings

Improved efficiency always benefits a company’s bottom line. Automating manual or paper-based processes is a low-tech way to reduce overhead, limit human-based errors that can be costly down the line, and free up staff to do more meaningful work. Small changes that make a workplace run more smoothly can improve job satisfaction, as well. 

Redefined Goals

Looking at the details of how a business is operating allows that business to find what is standing in the way for long-term growth and to remain competitive in the marketplace. Rapid-cycle innovation promotes resiliency through challenges and operational agility through obstacles. Business growth plans should include short-term goal setting as a road map to long-term goals.

An Empowered Workforce

Rapid-cycle innovation works with staff buy-in around process improvements, large and small. The focus of small changes should be around more efficient practices and processes that make the most sense for those on the ground level. Businesses that give operations teams the tools with which to make those changes empower staff to come up with ways to improve their day-to-day processes. 

The automation of processes through platforms and low-code tools like custom Quickbase solutions allows those who are not IT professionals to buy into a company’s modernization efforts. Rapid-cycle innovation allows for more of a collaborative effort toward company growth.

Modernization Big & Small

Your business is already likely making the big digital transformation improvements that will automate processes, update software to boost efficiency on a larger scale, and boost security upgrades to account for remote or hybrid work environments.

Rapid-cycle innovation allows for ideas to arise that would improve operations on a smaller scale. These are tangible results that may make life easier and more efficient for a workforce while reducing the risk of the big changes occurring as part of a company’s broad digital transformation.

Two employees in a modern office discussing rapid cycle innovation.

Tools Needed To Implement Rapid-Cycle Innovation

Many companies already have the tools needed to begin implementing rapid-cycle innovation. They need to put them to use. Where gaps remain to do so successfully, adding expertise to a company’s toolkit is supportive.

A Business Model Focused on Collaboration

Where rapid-cycle innovation is the norm, IT professionals are working with business operations teams to create incremental improvement pathways. Staff outside of the IT world become empowered to make decisions that will improve day-to-day processes. Freeing up expertise for larger, long-term projects and digital transportation efforts.

Agile Operations

Flexible thinking is needed in the best of times. Particularly when external efforts completely upend how businesses run and reach their consumer base. Successful rapid-cycle innovation efforts come from that business agility. Which is the ability to address challenges as they come and follow through on ideas that would ensure a company’s long-term success.

Digital Transformation Efforts

For incremental efforts to succeed, there must be long-term plans in mind for digital transformation and modernization on a broader level. Employees must understand those long-term modernization goals to allow for innovation on a smaller scale using available applications. In other words, what is a company’s mission in a broad transformation? What kinds of small changes will allow a company to support that mission and lead to the most overall growth?

Outside Expertise

A company needs the capacity and expertise for both broad and incremental digital transformation changes to be successful. Even organizations with a strong IT department struggle to stretch team members too thin and address gaps in company-wide efforts. In those cases, outside expertise may be the answer to promote a culture of rapid-cycle innovation.

Rapid Cycle Innovation With Trinity

Trinity has been working with businesses on custom solutions for long-term growth for over 23 years. We have a track record in finding smart ways for companies to make gains now. Contact us to learn more about rapid cycle innovation and to improve your business process long-term.

Scott Burday