Three ways to map the world around your company for innovation

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Photo by Marat Gilyadzinov on Unsplash

When coming up with new directions for innovation, or when you’re taking the first steps on your startup journey, it’s all about understanding the problem you want to solve.

That requires making sense of a lot of incoming information.

First of all, you’ll have information coming in from interviews with people that have the problem, and you definitely want to zoom in on who they are and how they behave in order to help them with a solution they love.

Visual tools like the Customer Journey and the Persona Canvas are designed to make it easy to ‘map out’ this kind of customer centred information. Using these tools, it becomes easier for you as a designer or for a whole team to understand the different pieces of information and how they relate to one another. …


From the Experiment Cookbook

Updated Experiment Cheatsheet

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Photo by Christophe Hautier on Unsplash

Validating your assumptions with experiments is a cornerstone of the Lean Startup methodology. Identifying the riskiest assumption you want to validate, defining your hypothesis, and then running a validation experiment is a great way to de-risk your startup process and move forward. But selecting the best experiment to run can be a difficult task.

Experiment Cheatsheet

A little while ago, I created a handy Experiment Cheatsheet to help you select your next Lean Experiment.

It uses the startup timeline as a guide, and lists 25 experiments you can do to validate anything from ideas to growth. Depending on how far your startup has progressed, it starts with cheap, easy tests in the early, riskier stages, and moves to more involved tests in later stages. …


From the Experiment Cookbook

Use this list to come up with interview scripts fast and easy

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It’s all about the right questions — Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

A few weeks back, I worked with a client setting up scripts for customer development interviews.

While they were working on questions for their interview script, one team member remarked that it would be great to have some kind of cheat sheet or list of questions to copy from. That would save a lot of time.

Going over my own previous experiments and looking at sources online, it turned out there are many questions that can be used time and again. So, I decided to compile these into a handy table :)

Coming up with questions for customer development interviews doesn’t have to be time consuming any longer. Simply go over the list and pick the ones that make the most sense to you. …


Customer Validation

How to get a read on what features customers find important

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It’s all in holding the right cards — Photo by Daniel Prado on Unsplash

Validating a complex set of features

Let’s say you are validating a new product, and you’re homing in on a value proposition. So far so good.

However, it turns out you’ve come up with way too many ideas for features based on your customer’s input.

How to make sense of this? How to whittle this long list of features down to a manageable MVP?

And, it’s not just selecting a few of the most interesting features: the total mix of features will influence the desirability of the MVP for your customer. Clearly, validating feature combinations one by one will take way too much time.

There has to be a way to get customers’ reactions on combinations of features fast, right? …


How to find your key innovation opportunities based on the Jobs to be Done

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How to link Jobs to be Done with opportunities? Photo by Miguel Aguilera on Unsplash

As you probably read a hundred times, innovation starts by understanding your customer. What do they try to achieve? What is the ‘Job’ they try to get done? And how can you help them achieve it?

In Lean Startup terms, that job your customer is trying to get done is called ‘Job to be Done’, or, in short, JTBD. Finding the JTBD for your customer is a large part of the early stages of the startup journey.

Life’s too short to build something nobody needs

— Ash Maurya

Looking at the JTBD, it makes sense to ask two practical questions:

  1. How do you find the JTBD? …


How Pirate Metrics helps you innovate faster

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Where innovation starts (Source: online)

(This post is inspired and refers to this excellent post on LinkedIn, which dives much deeper into the subject matter)

Pirate Metrics can fill the gap between the ‘Job To Be Done’ for your customer and the value proposition canvas, while at the same time helping you to build a healthy sales funnel.

First, find what sucks.

As Peter Merel describes it in his post, innovation starts by finding ‘what sucks’. What is the part of a customer’s Job To Be Done that really doesn’t work for them? …


Customer Validation

How to decide to if your validation experiment has a clear winner

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This is not what your experiment should be like — Photo by DEAR on Unsplash

Customer validation, validation experiments for idea validation and problem-solution fit… Terms that describe an approach many startups and product teams have become convinced of. After all, the more you can base your decisions on data and test your assumptions in the real world, the more you can learn and avoid costly mistakes. This helps you focus on tackling the big risks for your startup early on.

Practical problems

However, designing and running experiments in practice can be quite difficult. Besides worrying about running the right experiment, the big question that always comes back is:

“Can I trust the result of my experiment?”

After all, you’re basing potentially life-changing decisions on the result of that experiment — life changing for your product or startup, and maybe even for yourself. …


Customer Validation

The Job to be Done, Customer Journey, and Needs Canvas

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Start finding out what your customer’s job to be done is — Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

If you build it, they won’t come

Any serious new project, whether it is a startup, a new product, or another type of venture, is a big commitment. It will take you time, money, and effort. There simply are no ‘easy business ideas’. So it makes sense to try and make your effort worthwhile. Sounds good, but where do you start?

Ash Maurya, entrepreneur and one of the founders of the Lean Startup movement, is clear about it: don’t sit down and write a comprehensive 24 page business plan. Instead, start right away with finding out what your customers really need.

Life is too short to build something nobody…


Connect tools together in a workshop flow for maximum effect

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The outcome of an innovation session — Photo by Ferenc Horvath on Unsplash

Almost ten years ago, the book Business Model Generation by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur changed how innovation was done. People that had no prior experience working with post-it notes and visual templates suddenly faced the nine building blocks of the Business Model Canvas.

It has become an amazing success story. So much so that today, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find people that have not heard of the Business Model Canvas or its most well-known descendants, the Lean Canvas and the Value Proposition Canvas. Almost every innovation session revolves around putting post its on a template in some way. And I think that is a good thing. …


Innovation does not happen in a flash. It happens slowly.

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Innovation is slow. Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

Sometimes it seems innovation is more about going through the motions than about actual new ideas.

For example, in ideation sessions, the same ideas pop up over and over again. People come up with the zillionth platform, SAAS model, or app. Ideation can feel like throwing darts while wearing a blindfold and looking in the wrong direction. It’s hit and miss at best, as you’re dependent on the experience and personal point of view of the people in the room.

Still, there is also that one person that has ideas that are original, different, and outside the mainstream. Who has a deeper grasp of what is really happening in a market, and is able to tap into new and exciting examples and directions. How do they do that? …

About

Erik van der Pluijm

Designing the Future | Entrepreneur, venture builder, visual thinker, AI, multidisciplinary explorer. Designer / co-author of Design A Better Business

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