Skip to content
The Innovation Process
Stage 5

Pilot

Test a potential solution in a real-world environment


This section is under development and will be published during 2018/2019.


The objective of the Pilot stage is to test a potential solution to learn whether (and how) it works in a complex real-world environment with a large enough number of users to provide sufficient evidence of its success. The need to support more effective field testing of innovation in operational contexts, bridging the gap between developing minimum viable versions in controlled conditions and more refined, context-relevant solutions ready for widespread adoption, was another key priority identified across our research. This reflects concerns among some innovation stakeholders that there are too many trials of new ideas that do not, in practice, produce sufficient evidence of improvement to gain traction for wider uptake – and do not always give full consideration of the risks associated with experimentation in fragile contexts.

The Pilot stage consists of three workstreams. The first is to implement your innovation through a project using adaptive management approaches. The second, and in many ways, the main purpose of the Pilot, is to carry out research, monitoring and evaluation that will develop learning and evidence regarding your innovation. The third is the operations workstream, which provides support and logistics for both the innovation and the research workstreams. The three workstreams are inter-dependent. Many pilots never move on to the next stage because they have not carried out a rigorous enough pilot that looks at all aspects of the innovation, nor built up a strong enough evidence base.