My New Project — The Innovator’s Gift

My New Project — The Innovator’s Gift

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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My New Project — The Innovator’s Gift

I’m working on my most ambitious project yet. I’m looking for answers to the fundamental innovation question: What defines a better product?

Over the last nine years, I’ve published two best-selling books: Running Lean and Scaling Lean. Both were focused on practical techniques for modeling and testing big ideas through rapid experimentation.

But while rapid experimentation is key for idea validation, success is often predicated on either

  • starting with a good idea in the first place, or
  • managing to pivot a bad idea into a good idea in the face of failure.

Both are more easily said than done.

First, good starting ideas are rare, mystical, and often elusive. This begs the obvious question: Where do good ideas come from?

Next, failure is never comfortable. Most entrepreneurs rush to pivot at the first sign of failure — too often without spending the requisite time learning why the failure occurred. A pivot without learning is a disguised “see what sticks” strategy — which is a recipe for going around in circles.

And finally, too many entrepreneurs simply throw their half-baked solutions over the fence at customers — calling it an MVP or experiment. However, when customers encounter a half-baked MVP, they don’t turn into early adopters or testers, they leave.

We have to level up our game and start with better products.

Problem Discovery Before Solution Validation

At the earliest stages of an idea, when you don’t know what you don’t know, you need to employ a discovery versus validation mindset.

Guessing at smaller solutions (or starting with an MVP) is certainly better than spending a year building a perfect product no one wants. But these approaches are still vulnerable to the Innovator’s Bias where you simply ask: “What problem could my solution solve?” versus “What problems do my customers have?”

Going fast doesn’t automatically get you to breakthrough.

Love the Problem, Not Your Solution

The challenge today isn’t building more products, but uncovering the better product to build — which begs the question: “What defines a better product?” A fundamental mindset shift for doing that is starting with problems before solutions.

Starting with a solution (no matter how small) is like building a key without a door. If you simply flip that around and start with problems, solution building becomes a lot easier, and you actually build keys to doors that take you places.

Problems, not solutions, create space for innovation.

The Problem with Problems

While the idea of starting with problems is simple, systematically uncovering problems worth solving is quite difficult for a number of reasons.

Here are the top three:

  1. Entrepreneurs often unconsciously invent or fake problems to justify building their solution because of their Innovator Bias for the solution.
  2. If your starting problems fail to resonate with prospects, it’s hard to set up conversations with them because they’re too busy fighting their own “real” problems.
  3. You can’t simply ask customers about their top problems because they often don’t know, don’t want to tell you, don’t know what to tell you, or give you a solution instead of a problem.

And here are some more:

  • Open-ended problem discovery, without an anchor or constraint, easily leads to aimless wandering.
  • Same is true with open-ended observation techniques.
  • Too narrow a constraint can miss the mark completely, or lead to a local maxima solution.
  • Leading with problems can put your prospects on the defensive because people don’t like to feel vulnerable.
  • Some products are hard to frame in terms of problems e.g. desire-driven products like video games, fashion, or a movie.

So, is there a better way?
The answer has been staring us in the face…

Meet The Innovator’s Gift

Entrepreneurs spend a disproportionate amount of time framing problems in terms of their solution. The secret is framing problems in terms of their customer’s existing alternatives.

Here’s the basic premise of the Innovator’s Gift:

“New problems worth solving are created as by-products of old solutions.”

This is best illustrated with a simple example.

Place yourself somewhere in this timeline and think back to what caused you to switch from that solution to the next one.

  • Cassette tapes where just fine until CDs came along and made “rewinding/forwarding to find your favorite song” a problem, and offered “instant access to tracks” instead.
  • CDs where just fine until the iPod (and the 99c music store) came along and made “buying an entire CD for just one song” a problem, and offered “a thousand songs in your pocket” instead.
  • MP3 players were just fine until streaming services came along and made “a thousand songs in your pocket” a problem, and offered you 40 million songs the cloud instead.

Sure, each switch is grounded in new technology (invention), but the reason we switched (innovation) starts with old problems that may have been okay for a while, until they’re not.

The Innovator’s Gift is realizing that there is no such thing as a perfect solution. Problems and solutions are two sides of the same coin. And new problems worth solving come from old solutions.

If you carry this forward further…

Even your awesome new solution, once launched, will spew out problems of it’s own. The key to staying relevant to your customers and defending/growing your business model does not come from throwing more features (solutions) at them, but rather continuously uncovering problems and addressing them — before your competitors do.

This is the essence of Continuous Innovation…And yes, there is a step-by-step framework for doing this…And exactly what this new project is all about codifying as a framework.

It Starts With The Customer Forces Canvas


Customer Forces Canvas Version 3.0

The first step is framing problem discovery conversations, not around problems, but rather around triggers that cause your future customers to hire existing alternatives. You then attempt to unpack the causal forces that led them there, assess their current state and outcomes, and prioritize spaces for innovation (problems).

These insights are key to building a mafia offer — an offer your customer cannot refuse. For a good example of one, watch/rewatch Steve Jobs’s iPad launch keynote. I was on the fence of buying an iPad when it first launched. What would I need a tablet for when I already have a smartphone and a laptop? Today there are 5 of these things in my house.

https://medium.com/media/27a05f8e2b372662b6fd73dd03bdff39/href

Notice how Steve Jobs masterfully frames the pitch around old problems with existing alternatives versus new problems to solve. For added bonus, check out how he uses this same anchoring of old versus new to introduce pricing and make the iPad feel like a bargain.

[SIDEBAR] The backstory of this canvas

Those of you familiar with Jobs-to-be-done should recognize several elements from JTBD in the canvas. That’s because it’s been a big influence… If you’re interested in getting the backstory, keep on reading. Otherwise, you can skip this section…

Three years ago, I was approached by Bob Moesta from the Rewired Group. He was one of the original researchers in the now-famous milkshake Study, popularized by Clay Christensen, that helped codify the theory of jobs-to-be-done.

Bob liked what I had done with the Lean Canvas and asked me to take a look at how he has been applying JTBD:

“We have successfully applied JTBD in our consulting practice across many projects, but we often struggle to explain what a job even is. We’d like you to take a look and maybe you can help make this simple.”

I had read about JTBD in Clayton Christensen’s book: The Innovator’s Solution, and knew of the milkshake study. I had also recently been fielding questions about how to run Problem Interviews in desire driven products like video games. I was intrigued enough to learn more, so we decided to run a workshop together, which kicked off a loose collaboration.

That collaboration, however, was short-lived, as I had already committed to writing my second book, Scaling Lean, which sucked up most of my time. But the seeds had been planted. I started applying aspects of their work inside our company and across a wide range of other products — which led to the Customer Forces Canvas that I first blogged about here, and now the Innovator’s Gift.

The Customer Forces Canvas is Applicable Well Beyond Initial Product Launch

As your product moves beyond early adopters, two things are certain: more problems and more competition. The same framework you use to launch a product can also be adapted to continuously uncover problems in your solution before your competition.

We have used this framework at LEANSTACK to:

  • Find new untapped channels for customer acquisition and growth.
  • Better understand our fast-changing customer segments beyond our prototypical early adopter.
  • Build additional tools in short order that go beyond the Lean Canvas to align better with our customer jobs or bigger context.
  • Craft an entirely new “choose your own adventure” onboarding flow that more than doubled our activation and paid conversion rates.
  • Help clients in desire-driven segments to uncover problems worth solving.

What’s Next — Practice Trumps Theory

Developing a repeatable and practicable framework around this idea of the Innovators Gift and Customer Forces has my full attention these days. While I have previously blogged about the new canvas, we have continued to test/refine it, and have been developing several tactical how-to-guides, interview scripts, and examples to aid with adoption.

All this will most likely result in a book #3.

But as the book writing and publishing process is a long one, I’m always looking for ways to accelerate the process, while staying within the constraints of the publishing world— much as I did with my last two books and tools like the Lean Canvas.

For those that are unfamiliar with my book writing process, I write/build books like software — in 2 week sprints.

This is where you come in…
If you’d like to be a part of this project, keep on reading…

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How to get involved?

There are several ways to get involved (outlined below), but the gist is that I’m looking to create a private community of entrepreneurs/innovators looking to test/jumpstart their adoption of this framework.

Within that private community, I’ll be sharing content, hosting workshops, and providing 1:1 coaching.

What You’ll Learn

  • How to run effective problem discovery interviews
    - Framing conversations
    - Finding prospects
    - Interview scripts
  • How to process interview findings
    - Defining the right job-to-be-done
    - Correctly identifying early adopters
    - Prioritizing top problems worth solving
  • How to assemble a mafia offer
    - Crafting a compelling unique value proposition
    - Scripting a killer demo
    - Setting and communicating pricing
  • How to deliver a mafia offer
    - Effective storytelling
    - Using inertia to your advantage
    - Overcoming objections
  • How to continuously innovate
    - Automate problem discovery throughout the customer lifecycle
    - Find untapped channels for growth
    - Scale problem discovery across multiple customer segments

Outcome Driven

While actions speak louder than words, results speak louder than actions.

The goal here is to drive real outcomes. Every one who participates will be mentioned in the future book, and a select few will most likely make it in the book as a case-study (with your permission, of course).

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Here are the different packages:

Co-creator — $100

What you’ll get:

  • Online video course with lessons delivered every 2 weeks over 20 weeks.
  • Get early access to latest versions of the framework and tools.
  • Private community for discussion and Q&A.
  • Get mentioned as a co-creator in the new book when published.

Get the Co-creator Package — $100

Practitioner — $500

Includes everything in the Co-creator package plus:

  • Participate in a 1-day online workshop held in September, 2018.
  • Get hands-on practice with the tools and framework.
  • See play-by-play case-studies.

Get the Practitioner Package — $500

Interviewer — $1,000

Includes everything in Practitioner package plus 2 coaching sessions on effective problem discovery techniques where we will help you:

  • Design a custom-tailored Problem Interview script,
  • Review your interview results, and
  • Prioritize problems worth solving.

Get the Interviewer Package — $1,000

Rainmaker— $5,000

Includes everything in Interviewer package plus 3 additional coaching sessions where we will help you assemble and deliver a mafia offer:

  • Craft a compelling UVP,
  • Script a killer demo,
  • Define a pricing strategy,
  • Design a custom-tailored Solution Interview script,
  • Review results.

Get the Rainmaker Package — $5,000

Continuous Innovator — $10,000

Includes everything in the Rainmaker package plus additional high-touch coaching on outlearning your competition by showing you how to:

  • Adapt the Customer Forces Canvas at various stages of the customer lifecycle.
  • Build an automated continuous feedback loop with customers.
  • Regain control of your customer segments.
  • Uncover and prioritize new opportunities for growth.

Get the Continuous Innovator Package — $10,000

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My New Project — The Innovator’s Gift was originally published in Love the Problem on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.





Original: https://blog.leanstack.com/my-new-project-the-innovators-gift-8a3026f76017?source=rss----8a472b45761d---4
By: Ash Maurya
Posted: June 7, 2018, 11:59 am

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