It’s been a month since I joined inQvation Studio, and what a month it has been; fastpaced, fun and with a lot of excitement about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
I have spent the month catching up on all the thinking that has gone into building the Studio idea. Furthermore I have been fortunate enough to be able to contribute to a couple of projects already, and I am very grateful of how that has turned out and the feedback, I have received. There are just cool, skilled, fun and generous people all over, and I never grow tired of people who passionately care about what we are all doing together.
On top of that we have spent some time getting bits and pieces in play that will help us in our exploration work going forward. Essentially we’re preparing for takeoff full well knowing that (more than) one or two things will go very differently than according to plan. The coming months will have us launch properly and will show whether we can make our trajectory. Based on the first month, I am very optimistic. Onwards and upwards.
During the years I have met many people who have been incredibly frustrated trying to make good use of Business Model Canvas. They often follow a traditional hype cycle, where they start up enthusiastically and full of energy and purpose only to burn out after a week or two with little progress.
While it is easy to blame the tool, the tool is not to blame here. It is more about how people are trying to use it and how little knowledge they have about effectively using it. Because Business Model Canvas can be an incredible useful tool – if you know how to use it to orchestrate building your business model.
It is a hard thing to teach, so the best thing is to show it. Luckily there is a poster boy example of stellar use of it from the International Business Model Competition in 2013, where OWLET knocked it out of the park and won with their incredible use of the model. Go and watch the video here – and then go and get the true value out of Business Model Canvas.
Launching an entirely new research area into machine behaviour as suggested by MIT Media Lab seems like an obvious good idea. Because the more we leave to machines, the better we need to understand the decisions those machines make, the rationale behind them and the impact they will have on our outcomes.
Forcing ourselves to understand machine behavior may also be the best backstop we have towards making sure that machines don’t completely take over in a ‘Terminator’-like scenario. Because even if we agree we should never get to that point, I am not overconfident that that isn’t exactly what could be happening a few decades from now (without necessarily resulting in the dystopian scenarios, Hollywood likes to present on the big screen, though).
It would also inject some much needed ‘softer’ fields of study into the world of engineering and computing, which I think we need. Not so much to keep things in check as to make sure that we really utilize technology to help us solving really big problems with a massive impact. While we, humans, remain firmly in control.
Countless times when people talk about doing an MVP, what they are really deep down looking to do is something that resembles the finished product. Or at the very least should be used as a quite feature heavy and robust stepping stone towards the finished product.
Looked at through that lens the MVP is just one way of validating your business idea and underlying hypothesis. In the test-library, I use, there are 59 other methods just like it. It is just a way of testing whether you can validate your idea and your critical assumptions. Nothing more.
There is always something there that annoys your view of the problem. Something that doesn’t fit. But that something adds valuable perspective to what you’re working on, and more often than not it can be the true differentiator for your success.
I have always found that even though I have worked within a particular sector a number of times before and think I am pretty well covered, there is always valuable insight under the hood as soon as I curiously and unbiased start looking. My bet is that you will experience the same.
Should the person who comes up with an idea also be the one who straight out of the blocks evaluate its desirability, feasibility and viability? Probably not due to the obvious risk of bias. It is also why we have some tools for ideation and another set of tools for assessment and validation.
The really funny thing about the article in Harvard Business Review though is the finding that companies tend to put an excess value on ‘ideas’ presented by the upper tiers in the organization, while ideas from the floor tend to be oversold and thus often not really gets taken under consideration. It is actually thought provoking when you think a bit about it.
It seems like a big potential loss. Experience shows that the closer people get to the problem through their day-to-day jobs, the more valuable ideas for improvements they come up with. Somebody in upper management should apply their sales skills to help the people downstream sell their valuable ideas the right way.
Just because ideas can be hard to turn into something concrete, it doesn’t mean you should stop having them. There always should be – and there always is – room for the bright idea.
What you could do however is to stop thinking about the quantity of ideas you could have and focus all your energy of the outcome, you want to achieve.
If you have a great – sorry – idea about the problem you’re trying to solve and where you want to take your company down the line, you need fresh ideas. And chances are the ideas you will get by having a sharp focus on the outcome will be both relevant, valuable – and absolutely worth pursuing.
You can not – and shall not pursue – total certainty at any point in time, because doing so will slow you down and get you bogged down in process.
What you can however do is try to identify the factors most critical to success in your business and work towards getting to more certainty in those particular areas and use the insight to really rocket-fuel your success.