Why an innovation pilot is always a good idea to execute8 min read

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A pilot is a crucial step in the innovation process, as it allows testing and refining the proposed solution before it is fully implemented. A pilot is a part of the delivery phase, which is the final stage of the innovation cycle, where the solution is ready to be deployed and scaled up. A pilot involves selecting a representative sample of the target population or context, implementing the solution, collecting feedback and data, and evaluating the results. A pilot helps to identify any potential issues, risks, or gaps in the solution, and to make adjustments accordingly. A pilot also helps to demonstrate the value and impact of the solution and to build support and trust among the stakeholders. A pilot is, therefore, always a good idea to execute, as it ensures that the solution is effective, efficient, and sustainable.


  • Validate the assumptions and hypotheses underlying their idea or solution
  • Collect data and feedback from real users and contexts
  • Identify and address technical, operational, legal, ethical, or social issues or risks
  • Refine and improve their idea or solution based on the results and learnings
  • Demonstrate the value proposition and benefits of their idea or solution to potential customers, partners, investors, or policymakers
  • Build trust and confidence among stakeholders and users
  • Prepare for the challenges and opportunities of scaling up or implementing their idea or solution

A pilot is a small-scale test of a new solution or innovation before it is implemented on a larger scale. It is a crucial step in the delivery phase of the innovation process, as it allows the innovators to evaluate the feasibility, effectiveness, and impact of their solution. A pilot also helps to identify and address any potential risks, challenges, or barriers that might arise during the implementation.

What are the benefits of a pilot?

There are many benefits of conducting a pilot before implementing a new solution or innovation. Some of them are:

  • A pilot can provide valuable feedback from the users, stakeholders, and beneficiaries of the solution. This feedback can help to improve the design, functionality, and usability of the solution, as well as to measure its satisfaction and acceptance among the target audience.
  • A pilot can test the assumptions and hypotheses that underpin the solution or innovation. It can help to validate or invalidate the problem statement, the value proposition, and the expected outcomes and impacts of the solution. It can also help to refine or revise the logic model or theory of change that guides the innovation process.
  • A pilot can demonstrate the value and potential of the solution or innovation to potential funders, partners, and supporters. It can help to attract more resources, collaboration, and advocacy for scaling up the solution. It can also help to build trust and credibility among the decision-makers and influencers who have the authority and power to approve or reject the implementation.
  • A pilot can prepare the innovators and implementers for the challenges and opportunities that might arise during the implementation. It can help to develop and test the operational procedures, processes, and systems that are needed to deliver the solution effectively and efficiently. It can also help to train and equip the staff, volunteers, and partners who are involved in the implementation.

Therefore, a pilot is always a good idea to execute before implementing a new solution or innovation. It can help to ensure that the solution is relevant, desirable, feasible, effective, and impactful for the intended users and beneficiaries. It can also help to increase the chances of success and sustainability of the implementation.

What is the difference between a pilot, proof of concept, and an MVP

A pilot, a proof of concept, and a minimum viable product (MVP) are three different types of experiments that can be used to test and validate a new product or service idea. They have different purposes, scopes, and outcomes.

A pilot is a small-scale implementation of a product or service with a limited number of users or customers. The goal of a pilot is to evaluate the feasibility, effectiveness, and user satisfaction of the product or service before launching it to a broader market. A pilot can help identify and resolve technical issues, operational challenges, and user feedback.

A proof of concept is a demonstration of the core functionality or principle of a product or service. The goal of a proof of concept is to show that the product or service is technically possible and has potential value for the target market. A proof of concept can help test the viability and desirability of the product or service idea.

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a version of a product or service that has the minimum features or functionality that can satisfy the needs or wants of the early adopters or customers. The goal of an MVP is to learn from the market feedback and user behavior and iterate on the product or service based on the data collected. An MVP can help validate the assumptions and hypotheses about the product or service.

Do’s and don’ts in executing a pilot

A pilot is a small-scale test of a new product, service, or process before implementing it on a larger scale. It can help identify potential problems, risks, and benefits of the innovation and provide feedback for improvement.

Some of the do’s and don’ts in executing a pilot are:

  • Do define the objectives, scope, and success criteria of the pilot clearly and communicate them to all stakeholders.
  • Do select a representative sample of users, customers, or participants for the pilot and ensure they are willing and able to provide honest feedback.
  • Do collect and analyze data on the performance, usability, and satisfaction of the pilot and compare it with the baseline or expected outcomes.
  • Do document the lessons learned, best practices, and challenges encountered during the pilot and share them with the relevant parties.
  • Do evaluate the feasibility, scalability, and sustainability of the innovation based on the pilot results and decide whether to proceed, modify, or terminate it.
  • Don’t start the pilot without a clear plan, budget, timeline, and resources.
  • Don’t assume that the pilot will work perfectly or that everyone will love it.
  • Don’t ignore or dismiss the feedback, complaints, or suggestions from the pilot users or customers.
  • Don’t make major changes to the innovation during the pilot without testing them first.
  • Don’t generalize or extrapolate the pilot results to the entire population or context without considering the limitations and biases of the sample.

Inspiring examples of innovation pilots

Pilots are not only useful for innovators, but also for inspiring others to follow their example and pursue their own innovative ideas or solutions. Here are some examples of pilots that have inspired innovation in different domains:


In 2007, Google launched Project Loon, a pilot project that aimed to provide internet access to rural and remote areas using high-altitude balloons. The project was inspired by the challenge of connecting the billions of people who still lack reliable internet access around the world. The project faced many technical and regulatory hurdles, but also achieved many breakthroughs and milestones. For example, in 2017, Project Loon delivered internet service to over 200,000 people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Project Loon also inspired other innovators to explore alternative ways of providing internet access, such as drones, satellites, or lasers.

AirBnB San Francisco Headquarters Are Inspired by Their Own Listings!


In 2014, Airbnb launched Samara, a pilot project that aimed to create community-driven hospitality experiences that foster social and economic benefits for local residents. The project was inspired by the vision of transforming travel into a force for good and empowering communities to shape their own future. The project started with a prototype of a modular house that could be installed in rural areas and rented by travelers who wanted to experience the local culture and lifestyle. The project then expanded to other initiatives, such as designing a cultural center in Japan, supporting a community-led tourism program in India, or creating a social impact fund in Kenya. Samara also inspired other innovators to rethink the role of hospitality in creating positive social change.

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In 2016, Uber launched Uber Elevate, a pilot project that aimed to develop and deploy urban air mobility solutions that could reduce congestion and pollution in cities. The project was inspired by the opportunity of leveraging emerging technologies, such as electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, autonomous systems, and distributed networks, to create a new mode of transportation that is fast, safe, affordable, and sustainable. The project partnered with various stakeholders, such as aircraft manufacturers, regulators, infrastructure providers, and city officials, to design and test different aspects of the urban air mobility ecosystem. The project also inspired other innovators to join the urban air mobility space and explore its potential applications and implications.

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Published On: November 27th, 2023Categories: Accept Mission platform, Innovation management

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