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Many Australian companies tend to over complicate innovation experimentation. Having mentored a mix of large companies, start ups and not for profit organisations, I’ve observed this trend cutting across them all.

Part of the problem comes from all the amazing resources so readily available to people. From the fantastic book ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries, to the ‘Business Model Canvas’ by Strategyzer for fleshing out ideas, and Inventium’s own ‘Experiment Lab’. The combination of a multitude of resources and good management practises of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, is actually resulting in experimentation projects becoming bloated and over resourced.

The cheat sheet below is formed by the five principles of Lean Startup Methodology. These principles are designed to keep you on the straight and narrow for experimentation, so that you don’t end up with a King Kong sized experiment.

  1. Get out of the building – Too many people spend hours, days, weeks even, sitting inside a room perfecting their idea. Instead, test your innovation with the customer as early as possible to start learning.
  2. The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else – First mover advantage is great, but is no longer a sustainable competitive advantage. Focus on learning about what the customer wants faster than anyone else. Continue to do so even after implementation.
  3. Maximise learning per dollar spend – Don’t spend thousands of dollars on your experiments. Best-practice experimentation is lean. Once you’ve designed your test ask yourself, can I learn more, for less (people, time and money)?
  4. Avoid building products/services that nobody wants – Perfectly naturally people will fall in love with their ideas. Build the skill to instead fall in love with the opportunity to solve a customers problem. Take action from what you learn in your tests to make sure your innovation is something customers actually want.
  5. Success is not building a new feature, success is solving a customers problem – At Inventium we see a lot of ‘shiny widget syndrome’, where people pitch their new product feature or the technology they’ve built or leveraged. Organisations with a high innovation maturity focus on promoting the impact their innovation has, so make sure you’re showing people what problem you’ve solved for the customer.

So that’s your cheat sheet! Five principles to guide your next experimentation project. I’ll leave you with some final thought starters for where and when to use the cheat sheet:

  • Print out the five principles as a handout to use in your next experimentation kick off meeting
  • Reference as a guide when making important decisions about your experimentation approach
  • Print, laminate and put on your fridge at home (just kidding!).

If you have a story to share about innovation experimentation, a question to ask about the five principles, or anything that fits into the elusive ‘other’ category I’d love to hear from you. You can find me on email: [email protected] and on Twitter: @fasttrackjudy. For now, have a great week!