Business Experimentation

How do you drive innovation in your organization? Is it an event? A series of creative hostage taking sessions leading to big bet solutions? Do you centralize the efforts of innovation into ceremonies where people are allowed to “think different” or have you decentralized and democratized it? Have you fostered a culture of innovation where you have removed the barriers and boundaries in order to unlock the imagination of your talented employees every day? Do you embrace small innovations as well as big innovations? Do you drive your business success through continuous improvement and experimentation?

My hypothesis (which needs to be tested) is that innovation itself is also subject to the forces of innovation. It started out like a set of premium methods. Costing the organization time and resources. E.g. having to pull people out of production to participate in off-site events. But now innovation needs to become a commodity. It needs to become something so inherent in what we do that it is integrated, it is our operating system.

Now this is a different type of innovation than what you’ve seen so far. And the traditional familiar types will still be there. They will still solve the stuff they are already so good at solving. But I’m asking the question: What more, what else? What’s new?

And to figure this out we need to answer one simple question: what does the organization need? Which forces of influence (e.g. mobile, social, data, analytics, agile, self-organizing teams, cusotmer experience and more ..) have shaped the needs of our organization over the last decade and how have they changed the organizations needs? And if so, what are the tools that can help us deliver to that need?

Business Experimentation is one tool of many, but it offers some very cool effects. I came across the term when reading Stefan H. Thomke (brilliant book), and then combining this with a framework from lean startup machine, Outcome Driven Innovation (Ulwick doesn’t get enough Credit @heiki), parts Osterwalder (he is right when he says it is just a prototyping tool) mixed with Collis and Rukstad, and finally not forgetting Rick Higham and Hackernoon.

And maybe most importantly, to make sure the structure follows a scientific approach (new frameworks helps you see the world differently and articulate it, but it’s the quality of your interrogation of your theories and your commitment to the results that will drive your success).

A scientific approach to entrepreneurial decision making

This week I was lucky enough to be invited by my friend and former colleague @Tizano to a Kickstart Innovation ecosystem session, a workshop with startups where I dragged them through the approach using the startup eld365 an energy efficiency and sustainability solutions provider as an example.

I’ve shared a few slides below, you can also find the slideshare here. Or visit the Mural board (an online collaborative workspace we set up for the workshop where you can add your own stuff) and leave your post-its (anything in the form of comments or input would be cool).

A few slides on the process:

Stealing from the lean startup machine the process starts with identifying three hypothesis about the world: the problem you want to solve, what progress the customer is trying to achieve relevant to this problem and what value you could offer to help them track towards their progress.

The first statement helps you interrogate if the customer really agrees with you if the problem exists. To quote Remko Vermeulen of Telefonica Alpha

“75% of startups fail because they are trying to solve problems that are not really problems”. — Remko Vermeulen

The second statement is used to identify the customer need and consequentially what motivates them. This is done by using a jobs-statement (A sexy combo of Christensen and Ulwick).

The third statement is inspired by Osterwalder, but I personally find much more value in articulating it through the lens of Can you say what your strategy is? By Collis and Rukstad. Although Osterwalder is a much easier place to start if you are bringing a team in for the first time.

With these three hypothesis about the world in place the business breaks them down into assumptions to start investigating them with lower risk, higher speed and increased scale /volume. To quote Tom Chi of Google X

“Maximizing the rate of learning by minimizing the time to try things.” — Tom Chi, co-founder of Google X

Here I recommend Rik Higham who both has this brilliant article and a helpful website for the digital experimentation.

And when prioritizing your assumptions don’t forget the magic words of Snowden.

“data precedes framework” — Dave Snowden

The final part is turning your assumptions into clearly articulated implementable / testable experiments.

There are several more resources shared on the Mural board and I want to express that to me this is the start of a process of figuring out how Business Experimentation can be best designed and fit for our organizations. Please share your own experience, questions and learnings.

I hope this was valuable, and Good luck :)



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