The Pentathlon Framework

Are you prepared to innovate?

Without risk you cannot have game-changing innovation

The key to successful innovation is to fail fast at the front-end, where waste is accepted and the impact on the business managed.
A structured process removes the risk of failure as ideas progress through the ‘Innovation Funnel’.

This process is captured in the Pentathlon Framework.

The Pentathlon Framework

Just as a high performance pentathlon athlete reaches the top of their game by excelling in five sports, so too does an innovative company need to attain five key elements for optimum performance – excellence in one or two disciplines is not enough.

The Pentathlon Framework identifies five key elements for optimum performance

  1. A method for ideas generation in response to problems and challenges.
  2. A process for selection and prioritization of ideas with incomplete information.
  3. Strong project management skills to move an idea through implementation to market in an environment of high uncertainty.
  4. An innovation strategy is required to identify where innovation is most needed in order to guide and influence ideas selection and implementation. Senior management buy-in is required as implementation may involve acquisition, a new supply chain or new skills.
  5. An enterprise culture – people and organisations – that can manage the tension between taking risks and the business imperative to minimise failure as products and services near market.

The Pentathlon framework may appear inward looking but, like the Olympics, there is an arena where real business happens, so an innovation strategy needs strong outward links with the external world.

Does this framework resonate with your perspective of R&D management? Which elements are the biggest drivers of success? We welcome your input.

Read more in “Innovation Management: Effective strategy and implementation” by Keith Goffin and Rick Mitchell. Palgrave Macmillan 2016 (3rd edition)