Interview with Elad Levi, Senior Vice President, Asia-Pacific for Netafim.
Meet “Time to Innovation” (TTI), the lesser-known cousin to the more well-known concept of Time to market (TTM).
The definition of TTM is “the total length of time it takes to bring a product from conception to market availability.”
The definition of TTI is: “An approach of actively reducing the time it takes to take an innovation to reality.”
TTI is about a mindset of making sure that an innovation process doesn’t lose its inherent momentum.
We all know how an idea – any idea – has a lot of positive momentum and energy when it’s first conceived. But we also know that, almost regardless of how great the idea is, this same energy will very likely degenerate over time. That means that there is a value in reducing Time To Innovation. Not that innovation should be rushed, but if the process can be reduced, it should be.
I learned about “Time to Innovation.” (TTI) from Elad Levi, Senior Vice President, Asia-Pacific for Netafim, a company of Orbia, the world’s largest irrigation company and a global leader in precision agriculture solutions.
Elad loves his job and told me: “I wake up every day and realise that someone is willing to pay me to make the world a better place.”
And he is not exaggerating. Thanks to their innovative irrigation solutions the company he works for is taking millions of people out of poverty by letting them farm in places where farming was not possible, or by giving farmers better yields.
.Elad shared about a project he ran in Rwanda, which will take thousands of farmers and farmer family members out of poverty by turning a 15,600 hectare area of farmable land into intensive agriculture by using modern technologies. A project that, in the first meeting with the government of Rwanda, Elad initially drew up its concept on a napkin of a hotel in Kigali.
While discussing the project, Elad reflected on a quote that one of his mentors had taught him. The quote was: “Time Kills All Deals.”
In other words: If we want our innovations to become real we should help minimise the time it takes to make them happen.
In the words of Elad: “I have seen it over and over in my career: great ideas that fizzle out for a number of reasons; people change jobs, policies change, budgets are relocated, technology moves on, and governments losing elections etc etc. Wonderful ideas that were on the verge of happening died under the axe of time.”
Time kills all deals.
So what can we do to reduce “Time To Innovation”?
Elad gives three suggestions that could help:
1) Do “Vision Prototyping”.
Are the stakeholders on board for making your innovation a reality? If not, why not?
Elad stressed the importance of having stakeholders who share a vision of the project.
A way to make that happen could be to do a “vision prototype”, it could be a physical prototype of a project, but also a visualisation, an animation – even a story – anything to make sure all stakeholders have invested in the same vision.
Elad: “Vision prototyping shortens the time to innovation. In many projects I can see that the other stakeholders do not see it. Then I create a short video or a 3D-rendering to get people onboard again.”
2) Always increase the stakes.
This might sound counterintuitive, but if a project is not moving forward it might help to make the project bigger. If we have to wait for it to happen we should get more out of it.
Elad mentioned how, in his previous job, they planned the construction of a new building, but the project dragged on. So the company increased the brief from a 7-story building to a 9-story building.
For the project in Rwanda, Elad made sure that additional products and services were added as time passed.
Elad explained: “If it’s going to take more time, make sure you get something more out of it. It’s about ‘injecting momentum’ into an innovation.”
I love it.
I think we all know how important it is to inject momentum into creative projects that are stagnating.
3) Make sure there is materiality.
Materiality is a legal term meaning “the quality of being relevant or significant”. Elad borrows this term to talk about the importance of having all stakeholders commit by having them have this specific project on top of their todo list.
Elad: “Everyone’s time is limited and we all have to prioritise. If your innovation is not top of mind with your stakeholders then the chance of it becoming true is drastically reduced. Always ask: ‘How do I make this innovation the top priority of the people who need to think of it as a top priority?’.”
Time To Innovation is not about “as fast as possible.” It’s about “as fast as optimal.” Rushing for the sake of rushing has killed as many creative projects as it has given birth to.
No, Time To Innovation is about reducing time while not compromising the creative project, but instead making it better.
So how do you know what is “optimal”? Elad talked about the need to always feel that you are “efficiently moving forward.”
He said: “Innovation is about momentum.”
If your innovation is having momentum you are in a good place. If the momentum is fading you are in trouble. And time eats momentum.
The antidote to time killing momentum is action. And “Time to Innovation” is that mindset that you need to make sure that your creative project has the momentum it needs to get done.
In Elad’s case thousands of Rwandan farmers now have drip irrigation in their fields helping them help themselves out of poverty because Elad and his team at Netafim and their customer in the Rwandan government were able to reduce the “time to Innovation” enough that the project made it to completion.
How can you use “Time to Innovation” to make your own creative project come true in an optimal time frame?
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