Thought Leadership From Industry Peers

Last Updated: 20 November 2019
A Guide to Innovation Pods: The Future of Enterprise Delivery Model
Geetha Damodaran | Head - Project Delivery Ignitho Technologies Inc About the author Orginally Published: 20 November 2019

As a C suite executive your business growth has never been by mere chance; it is the result of the right strategies and catalysts working together for your success. In this journey of building a mighty business for your company one of the tricky challenges that you might have faced is to be versatile in a dynamic and massive business environment. 

The questions are many as to how to rapidly adapt and develop ideas to align with the changes, capitalizing and navigating around the opportunities and risks efficiently or how to integrate the agility that you see around within your company. The answer lies in how you distribute the control to make the decisions regarding a project promptly with close alignment with the clients. This could only be achieved through autonomous entities that can act on their own without interfering in other business activities that exist within your work ecosystem. 

Innovation pods

An innovation pod is a small, autonomous unit that is cross-functional enabled to deliver projects that the clients appreciate through distributed agile methodology. With the digital switch-over that's occurring at a fast pace across the domain, emerging innovation pods that convene multi-functional teams, bringing together design with technology in a project to get the best out of the idea, has taken hold as the brand-new centers of excellence (CoE) that will transfer the optimal value in these critical times.

Innovation pods are employed to have a seamless delivery process, focusing clearly on the outputs and outcomes that you deliver to the clients.

Pods are independent and scalable

One big-time advantage of the pods is they are autonomous units that are functioning ahead of the "ripple effect" that might affect the usual operations within the company. They are free to innovate and endorse new work patterns and workflows; devoid of permissions. These pod-level innovations could be well adapted into multiple pods as this process is rather frictionless and productive. 

As pods are modular, adaptability becomes much easier which makes it more scalable and competent. There exists a good deal of latent skills within each pod that enables you to scale up when the need comes- focusing on the client's requirements. When the time or the demand comes this digital pod can be reproduced into multiple pods bringing in new members who are cross-functional, thus minimizing the growing pains. 

Innovation Pods and Agile Methodologies

Agile methodologies are gaining momentum since it has created a mindset that has moved far beyond a mere software development team. Today, leaders in the digital domain are employing agile methodology to transform their business workflows and culture. It is with this agile methodology that the concept of digital pods become more prominent concerning the way they ideate and function.

An innovation pod is assigned throughout to a particular project; recurrent and consistent in its structure at the same time. Each pod will be having its unique sprint schedules to focus on. Consistency is one of the key aspects that is behind a productive creation and management of agile pods. Significant roles such as scrum masters are expected to be kept constant throughout the project along with other key responsibilities. Right from developing the hypothesis to maintaining and scaling the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) the pods are required to maintain steadiness. 

The innovation pod's engagement model comes hand in hand with the agile methodology that has the following steps in common.

1.    Scoping- The project is scoped out thoroughly crisscrossing the client's requirements.
2.    Kick-off- Initiate the project after sectioning off the project into phases. 
3.    Discovery- From the several, critical problems that the client is facing are prioritized for the ease of building.
4.    Framing- Through funnel methodology, the solutions are generated for the problems based on their significance and urgency.
5.    Define- The solutions are defined for their integration into MVPs.
6.    MVP- A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is developed incorporating the specified solutions.
7.    Iterative delivery- After the first phase of the cycle, the product is delivered which then kick start the second phase of the project. 

To maintain consistency, the pods are expected to be the same throughout the delivery process right from the scoping estimation to the iterative delivery. This is to make sure that the functional capability, scope of the work and the creep along with customer satisfaction remains intact in every step that the pod takes in the project. In this process, stakeholders on both sides become "Co-Innovators" where the enterprises are encouraged to make critical decisions during the early stages, thereby reducing risk in large scale investments.

Align the pods to your agile methodology

In order to maintain the spirit of the agile methodology, your innovation pods must be aligned in such a way as there exists a cascading effect happening right from the methodology to the pod members. To achieve this there are certain basic functions that your enterprise has to follow on:

•    Kick start the transition to agile pods by training the pod members in the right direction throughout the onboarding process. 
•    While you generate the teams for the pod, take into consideration their skillsets and how they complement each other. 
•    Provide the right autonomous control within the pods to make innovative and progressive decisions. 
•    The scrum master should be sharing the best practices to be followed after the right ideation within the team and should encourage an open learning environment.
•    Make the right use of the pods' skills as much as possible when it comes to the cross-functionality within the structure. 
•    Leverage the use of right stacks and the right technologies as per the client's requirements. But make sure that the new technologies are not employed in the midway of a delivery process.
•    Autonomy within the pods is a concept that needs to be ingrained within the pods over time. So be prepared to give the required time to the team to scale up themselves to play their respective roles in full efficiency during the process. 

Innovation pods can be stated as the future of the enterprise delivery models- be it small, medium or large. So, the bet that you make here with the podular strategy will be always to increase the customer experience, in a minimum turnaround time cost-efficiently. To ideate and build the right innovation pods will be therefore steering the way for your company in the coming years; deciding the state of your company among your competitors. 

Geetha is an experienced professional with close to a decade of experience in global project delivery. Along with a strong analytical background, having worked earlier in a senior BA role across multiple domains such as retail and finance, Geetha has a strong understanding of agile delivery processes and design thinking. Read More

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