Yesterday we closed the submissions for our “iQnite Case Competition on Climate Change” with close to 60 dedicated and passionate challengers signed up for the task of trying to create new innovative solutions to tackle climate change.
I am blown away by the richness of ideas and the profiles of the people participating. It took a lot of effort and hard work to get the word out, and we have definitely learned a lot in the process. But it was totally worth it. On the other hand, I am slightly baffled that for all the talk about the need to do something more related to climate change, there weren’t more who were willing and/or able to step up to the plate and actually make an effort.
Next up is planning for the first of two bootcamps. It will take place on November 15-16, and it will be a real challenge to do a programme that fits with the diversity of ideas, industries and backgrounds of the participants. But it is all part of the fun and the experience. So bring it on!
One of the things that always concern me about doing B2B related products and services is that the user is almost always different from the one who is actually paying the bill. What might constitute a problem for someone down in the organization can be totally overlooked at C-level, making it super hard to get the good solution in the hands of the people who actually need it.
I think there are several ways to try to deal with this. One is the obvious one: Make the solution so inexpensive that it falls well within the limits of discretionary spending that people in the organization may have. In other words: Give them the opportunity to buy it themselves.
The other one is more of a workaround but nonetheless important: Develop the pitch for the C-suite and KNOW full well that aside from having to convince your users, there is a key task in being able to make the hard sell where the money is. If that is where it’s at, it should be as important for you as building the product itself.
Yesterday, me and a couple of colleagues went for a video shoot at the intimate studio of Veronika Grosik of a series of promos, we’re going to use for an upcoming project that you will hear more about in due time.
It was a super fun experience. In a couple of hours we got everything we needed thanks to just the right dose of preparation beforehand; knowing enough to be focused while knowling little enough to remain flexible in the moment. It is really a fine balance.
On top of that it was great to feel the energy of going out of the office and doing something out of the ordinary. It created a sense of purpose, belonging and fun that was just second to none. So remember that, folks: Get out of the building!
It is no secret that I have found falling in love with Slack very challenging. Perhaps it is my Microsoft-past with Outlook and (yes) Clippy (and yes, there is a full documentary on YouTube about that one) that haunts me, but I have found the channel setup and the various direct messages threads challenging.
Not any more. I am now firmly in the Slack boat. Why? Because it is just so much easier, when you are working with different teams on different projects to keep up to date and keep the momentum, than it is through email.
It literally only takes a couple of seconds to ask a question on Slack and move on. It boosts the productivity and moves things along even if you have a limited number of hands. Just set up a workspace for each team and integrate them all in the Slack-app, and you’re good. Now, the next challenge is for it not to become too easy and just overwhelm the various workspaces and channels with pointless chit chat.
When you are doing customer interviews, it can be super hard to both ask the right questions, make appropriate notes and be present in the moment to actually hear and understand what people are truly saying.
I have created a small workaround for this. I have started to use Typeform as my notepad for customer interviews. I will build my questionaire beforehand making sure not to ask questions that put words in the mouth of people, and I will quite extensively use scaled answers.
When I am in the interview, I bring my iPad, and I will use the Typeform questionaire as a guide. The options I have chosen will allow me to pin down most answers and get a sense of their importance, and the few fields for extra comments will be easy to fill out either during the interview or immediately afterwards. In that way I get to ask the right questions, capture the answers AND stay present in the conversation. What is not to like?
One of the things I spend a significant amount of time on is devising, designing and running experiments on various different ideas for new concepts. It is both fun and challenging.
The challenging part is mostly about not reverting to the same 2-3 types of experiments and use them again and again. But because it is wrong to do so, and you might develop bias. But also because there are actually a lot of different ways, you can design and run experiments based on what kind of hypothesis, you’re trying to (dis)prove.
For that reason I have built yet another Excel-model; a simple database of all the different experiments, we know and can run with titles, applicable stages, ‘how to’-recipies and our know-how and experience in running them with valid results. Using the filter option on that one quickly allows me to narrow down the list of useful experiment-types for any given idea, broaden our horizon – and generate better results.
It is really that straightforward.
One of the things that really excites me is to investigate problem spaces to see if there are any good solutions to the problems at hand – or if there is an abundance of opportunity to do better.
I think that Mike Shipulski has an interesting point in arguing that instead of talking about disruption, we should be talking about how we get from “No” to “Yes”; how we create solutions that are above and beyond the existing solutions when it comes to actually solving the problems or meeting the needs of the customer.
I like it because it is almost a binary choice rather than a fluffy, watered down concept; how can we make something that wasn’t possible before and let the customers be better off? I think that binary, straight forward question is the key to a lot of success in innovation.
If you are working on creating anything new, anything outside the norm, you know that it can be a daunting task. You know that it can feel impossible at times, and you know that you can get to the point where you really doubt what you’re doing, and how to proceed with confidence.
Thankfully, there is a great book to support you in your quest. And yes, it is in fact called “How to Lead a Quest”, and it is written by Dr. Jason Fox. I highly recommend it. It is both a super guide, a great inspiration and – at times – a great comfort.
Not only will you get to see that the ups and downs you and your project(s) go through are totally normal and actually a part of the plan and of doing it right. And there are lots and lots of tips and tricks for how to operate, how to set yourself goals, achieve meaningful progress and adapt to core habits of making sure, you stay on the path.
There is no way around it: The greatest learning opportunity is when things don’t go according to plan. When you envisioned X and Y or Z happens, and you have very little idea about why that is.
When that happens – and it will happen – it is an open invitation to learn. It is an invitation to go back, investigate and walk through everything you have done in order to try and find the spot(s), where you missed something important.
It is by no means certain that you will be able to find it at the first time of asking. But if you adapt an experimental approach and try to adjust here and there in a controlled way, chances are that you will finally understand what happened, and what you could have done and should be doing forward to make it right. And voilá; you will actually have learned something.
The other day I met with a startup in need of some advice. They have been working on their offering for a couple of years, and they felt stuck in terms of getting it to market and choosing the right approach.
They showed me their product, and it prompted a conversation about who they have developed the product for, and what they actually, factually know about the customers, they are trying to get to buy into their offering. It was a classic example of solution looking for a problem.
We took a step back and talked about the value proposition based around the Value Proposition Canvas. And when it came to the problem solving real pains for real customers, it was painfully obvious that the biggest issue for them was that there is a disconnect between the customer pain points and how the product looks and welcomes you.
They left with new insights and ideas into how to progress from here. Sometimes it just pays to rewind the clock and look at whether there is a connection for real between needs, pains and gains and the actual product.