Flywheel: How to Organize Front-End-of-Innovation (FEI) Projects

“If you are not doing innovation projects you are not doing innovation”

Why Organizations don’t Innovate

Human beings like to get a pattern set in their lives, in their work and once it is set they don’t like to change. Change is always difficult and humans are only interested in change when there is an emergency.

But if you are a mature organization, there is no need to wait for the emergency to change. Rather you try to anticipate the market and have continuous cycles of scheduled projects like twice a year, every week, every month, etc to innovate like a flywheel on the car always spinning adjusting to the speed.

Why Do Well Resourced Organizations Fail and How Can They Build Innovation?

Most organizations are afraid to fail and this is the reason they fail. They don’t innovate; they have bureaucratic cultures, risk evasiveness culture, no innovation process at all, too much red tape, lack of courage and no resources allocated for new ideas generation. You can create a culture of innovation in the organization by creating an emergency. People get motivate when they see an emergency and you have t be the fear monger for them and show them the danger in not innovating. Through education and presenting them what is happening in the market you can get them to approve innovation. Another way is to do low risk small projects with the people and let them build confidence and gradually build the ability to take on more ambitious riskier challenges.

Front end of Innovation Process

  • Build an innovation team
    • Having basics of Creative Problem Solving
    • At least one person should have facilitation training
    • Should understand the FEI cycle
    • Should not include those with low energy
    • Types of thinkers on the team should be: sampling of clarifiers, idea-tor, developer and implementer
  • Having a strong leader with diverse skills and thinking styles
  • The team should have a mandate from top to start and top management must give them time to formulate pitches
  • Then hear the pitches and decide which ideas to use

The FEI Cycle (or Flywheel Process)

Week 1: Decide on the focus of the project and develop a challenging question

Week 2 & 3: Solicit, do research and ask the team for ideas

Week 4 & 5: Coverage on best few ideas and prepare pitches for top management to consider

Week 6: Pitch management and get the approval

Week 7: Transfer approved concepts to R&D and those who would implement

After each project evaluate the project and collect metrics along the way.



Product/service that helps the organization makes braver, bolder better and more challenging questions. The way it works: a box with objects is shipped to the customer, actual things/products rapped up. Each object is carefully curate to represent various trends happening around world when you mash up those trends with your organization new ideas come up.


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Gregg Fraley | Creativity & Innovation Speaker and Advisor | Three Oaks, Michigan

He is a creativity and innovation expert. He’s the author of Jack’s Notebook, a business parable about creative problem solving and is an active blogger and thought leader in innovation.

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