(Out of) focus while listening to the pitches… :)

Top 10 key learnings from my experience in a corporate accelerator

Disclaimer: please note this article is a collection of personal thoughts and data points. All info is publicly available. The content hereby written does not reflect in any way the position of the company I work for.

Dear reader,

This is the very first article I write on Medium. The premise: I already posted this on my LinkedIN account, but I think it’s worth sharing insights also with this community. Hopefully, you will find the content useful. So, let’s start.


After three full months, around June 2017, my experience at the Innoleaps Corporate Accelerator @ Startup Bootcamp in Amsterdam came to an end. What a great experience! Something I will definitely remember for the rest of my life. Although I cannot share any detail about the projects I worked on, due to confidentiality, I am happy to share some key learnings that I hope you can find useful, especially if you are looking for changing the ways of working in your company and fully embrace the “new” way: lean startup, agile movement and innovation accounting, mostly used by startups and tech companies. So, without further ado, let’s see point by point:

Credit: MindTools — Diagram adapted from Ries, E. (2011) ‘The Lean Startup,’ New York: Crown Business.

1. FROM CONSUMER TO HUMANS. My team and I were able to go beyond a consumer focused approach, we were human focused. Closer to our customers more than even before. For the very first time in our lives we went out and talked with people. And people were happy to talk with us! Also, each team member, from the specialist to the manager, had the chance to experience the full customer experience from the customer perspective

2. PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP. The importance of creating a 1-to-1 relationship with the consumer/customer to truly understand who they are and what they need. Within a corporate accelerator, you realize you can prove that not only small/craft companies and startups have the opportunity to move hearts through personal touch (e.g. by delivering a handwritten note — small things that matter, small things that make the difference and make people happy.

3. TRUE PURPOSE. The importance of truly believing in what you do, the mandatory need to define your core value. From an internal perspective, I understood that if you are not willing to bet your money on the project, it is not going to fly. You want to be financially and emotionally involved to increase your chances of success. Also, from an outside perspective, having a true purpose is really adding value for consumers (or customers).

Credit: http://truepurposecounseling.com/

4. ONE FOCUS, ONE TEAM. The importance of having one focused team. Team is everything. Team is key for success. Having people working together in the same space, focusing on one single project at the time — not disturbed or interrupted by frequent meetings, dozens of emails and requests — is something really valuable. The best way to increase productivity and efficiency. No disturbance and consistent work on one project can deliver massive progress in a short period!

5. WIN/FAIL FAST, LEARN EVEN FASTER. Small, quick and cheap experiments can be set up for almost any topic and can create very quick and effective learnings. Once identified where to focus, running experiments and test at pace is one of the key things that makes the difference between a successful venture and a classic corporate setting. Measuring against defined KPIs and using the learnings to come up with new solutions is even better.

6. DATA COLLECTION. I understood the true power of using data points to bring ideas to the next level, and quickly understand when to pivot if something seemed off. Let data shows you what there opportunities to move forward are.

7. MENTORING AND NETWORKING. Regular, unbiased outside views are really helpful to challenge your own view and provide support for the next steps. Having a good network of people working in the start-up environment and in the innovation field help the individual and the team to nurture the lean approach, to exchange and share ideas and best practices, to ‘feed the beast’ / be constantly inspired with new creative ideas and solutions.

Credit: https://www.changeboard.com

8. DIGITAL LEARNING. The importance of the digital learning experience and the lean startup approach. Comparing to a regular innovation process, it is mind blowing to see what tangible results and business opportunity you can create in such short amount of time, with such little amount of money, thanks to the lean startup approach.

9. TOOLS AND RESOURCES. What I found useful:

  • The KANBAN BOARD [1], used by AGILE developers and start uppers, with a clear division of tasks in SPRINTS and the possibility to visualize a backlog of actions, things to do, work in progress and jobs done
  • The LEAN STARTUP way and the BUILD-MEASURE-LEARN cycle. So, obviously, the BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS, the VALUE PROPOSITION CANVAS and the PITCH CANVAS, all useful tools that helped my team to visualize the most important aspects of a business model, of a problem, or helped how to structure a pitch
  • Table Tennis, good for release stress!
  • Coaching and mentoring ad hoc, always available

10. MAKE CHOICES. SOON. Potentially, you can test anything with as little as EUR 50/100. Soon you realize that diving deep to understand consumers behaviors, pains, gains, jobs, journeys, is the core of every business model, but will lead to produce hundreds of insights, hypotheses, dozen of tests that potentially could lead to even more learnings, validations, experiments. An endless loop. At some point, you need to identify your top 3–5 ideas, based on a mix of data points, gut feeling and business acumen, and go with them, and test those with your consumers or customers. The fastest way to learn is to deliver an MVP at the hand of the consumers. Learning and moving fast nowadays, is key for success.


So, that’s all for now. What do you think about these insights? Did you also experience a corporate accelerator like me? I am looking forward to hear your opinions in the comment section.


Definitions:

[1] A Kanban board is a work and workflow visualization tool that enables you to optimize the flow of your work. Physical Kanban boards, like the one pictured below, typically use sticky notes on a whiteboard to communicate status, progress, and issues. Online Kanban boards draw upon the whiteboard metaphor in a software setting.

Credit: https://denpeakacademy.com/2015/12/21/the-kanban-board/

Top 10 key learnings from my experience in a corporate accelerator

Disclaimer: please note this article is a collection of personal thoughts and data points. All info is publicly available. The content hereby written does not reflect in any way the position of the company I work for.

Dear reader,

This is the very first article I write on Medium. The premise: I already posted this on my LinkedIN account, but I think it’s worth sharing insights also with this community. Hopefully, you will find the content useful. So, let’s start.


After three full months, around June 2017, my experience at the Innoleaps Corporate Accelerator @ Startup Bootcamp in Amsterdam came to an end. What a great experience! Something I will definitely remember for the rest of my life. Although I cannot share any detail about the projects I worked on, due to confidentiality, I am happy to share some key learnings that I hope you can find useful, especially if you are looking for changing the ways of working in your company and fully embrace the “new” way: lean startup, agile movement and innovation accounting, mostly used by startups and tech companies. So, without further ado, let’s see point by point:

Credit: MindTools — Diagram adapted from Ries, E. (2011) ‘The Lean Startup,’ New York: Crown Business.

1. FROM CONSUMER TO HUMANS. My team and I were able to go beyond a consumer focused approach, we were human focused. Closer to our customers more than even before. For the very first time in our lives we went out and talked with people. And people were happy to talk with us! Also, each team member, from the specialist to the manager, had the chance to experience the full customer experience from the customer perspective

2. PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP. The importance of creating a 1-to-1 relationship with the consumer/customer to truly understand who they are and what they need. Within a corporate accelerator, you realize you can prove that not only small/craft companies and startups have the opportunity to move hearts through personal touch (e.g. by delivering a handwritten note — small things that matter, small things that make the difference and make people happy.

3. TRUE PURPOSE. The importance of truly believing in what you do, the mandatory need to define your core value. From an internal perspective, I understood that if you are not willing to bet your money on the project, it is not going to fly. You want to be financially and emotionally involved to increase your chances of success. Also, from an outside perspective, having a true purpose is really adding value for consumers (or customers).

Credit: http://truepurposecounseling.com/

4. ONE FOCUS, ONE TEAM. The importance of having one focused team. Team is everything. Team is key for success. Having people working together in the same space, focusing on one single project at the time — not disturbed or interrupted by frequent meetings, dozens of emails and requests — is something really valuable. The best way to increase productivity and efficiency. No disturbance and consistent work on one project can deliver massive progress in a short period!

5. WIN/FAIL FAST, LEARN EVEN FASTER. Small, quick and cheap experiments can be set up for almost any topic and can create very quick and effective learnings. Once identified where to focus, running experiments and test at pace is one of the key things that makes the difference between a successful venture and a classic corporate setting. Measuring against defined KPIs and using the learnings to come up with new solutions is even better.

6. DATA COLLECTION. I understood the true power of using data points to bring ideas to the next level, and quickly understand when to pivot if something seemed off. Let data shows you what there opportunities to move forward are.

7. MENTORING AND NETWORKING. Regular, unbiased outside views are really helpful to challenge your own view and provide support for the next steps. Having a good network of people working in the start-up environment and in the innovation field help the individual and the team to nurture the lean approach, to exchange and share ideas and best practices, to ‘feed the beast’ / be constantly inspired with new creative ideas and solutions.

Credit: https://www.changeboard.com

8. DIGITAL LEARNING. The importance of the digital learning experience and the lean startup approach. Comparing to a regular innovation process, it is mind blowing to see what tangible results and business opportunity you can create in such short amount of time, with such little amount of money, thanks to the lean startup approach.

9. TOOLS AND RESOURCES. What I found useful:

  • The KANBAN BOARD [1], used by AGILE developers and start uppers, with a clear division of tasks in SPRINTS and the possibility to visualize a backlog of actions, things to do, work in progress and jobs done
  • The LEAN STARTUP way and the BUILD-MEASURE-LEARN cycle. So, obviously, the BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS, the VALUE PROPOSITION CANVAS and the PITCH CANVAS, all useful tools that helped my team to visualize the most important aspects of a business model, of a problem, or helped how to structure a pitch
  • Table Tennis, good for release stress!
  • Coaching and mentoring ad hoc always available

10. MAKE CHOICES. SOON. Potentially, you can test anything with as little as EUR 50/100. Soon you realize that diving deep to understand consumers behaviors, pains, gains, jobs, journeys, is the core of every business model, but will lead to produce hundreds of insights, hypotheses, dozen of tests that potentially could lead to even more learnings, validations, experiments. An endless loop. At some point, you need to identify your top 3–5 ideas, based on a mix of data points, gut feeling and business acumen, and go with them, and test those with your consumers or customers. The fastest way to learn is to deliver an MVP at the hand of the consumers. Learning and moving fast nowadays, is key for success.


So, that’s all for now. What do you think about these insights? Did you also experience a corporate accelerator like me? I am looking forward to hear your opinions in the comment section.


Definitions:

[1] A Kanban board is a work and workflow visualization tool that enables you to optimize the flow of your work. Physical Kanban boards, like the one pictured below, typically use sticky notes on a whiteboard to communicate status, progress, and issues. Online Kanban boards draw upon the whiteboard metaphor in a software setting.

Credit: https://denpeakacademy.com/2015/12/21/the-kanban-board/