Community, Content Strategy, Customer/member centricity, Uncategorized

Transform the Way you Work, Think and Take Ideas to Market: Learn from Design Thinking and Lean Startup Methodologies

The Futile Search for Certainty

We all do it. Start with the  greatest intention! Wake up fired-up with ideas we believe will revolutionize our lives or organizations only to gradually fall back to the same old habits.

The premise of my book was  that the organizations that are thriving today are outside-in. This means that  every aspect of their culture, business, mindshare and they way they measure success is focused on the customer rather than their own products, polices and assumptions.

Many enthusiastically agreed with this premise. And many among them were far from novices. They had earnestly invested a great deal of effort on developing their leadership, training staff and exposing them to new ideas; instituting customer-friendly policies, interactive websites or online communities. Yet most still have essentially the same organizations with new features.   Not surprising, their market positioning, profitability or role in their members’ lives have not leapt to new levels. Why? What is the hurdlebetween “understanding,” and even embracing, and actually “doing?”

One of the hurdles, for me, is the reliance on the tools, practices and ways of thinking we have been immersed in since childhood and constantly fall back to. These were designed for stability–a world that moved at a slower pace, was more predictable and required fewer options. Today we live in a fast-paced world in which uncertainty is the norm, and yet we feel uncomfortable with it and try to fight it at any cost.

Our go-to practices are heavy on data gathering and predictions about the future in an effort to ward off any possibility of risk and failure before we actually launch a new product or idea.  Predictions of future trends, detailed strategic planning, environmental scanning, massive surveys and market research and endless design by committee precede real action.

Yet how many times have  our surveys or futurist visualization assured us of the need for a product, only to have the very people surveyed reject it when it finally came out in the market. You simply cannot predict the future and, hence, design by data, say the proponent of Design Thinking, a highly regarded  method for solving problems, approaching innovation and taking ideas to market.

The only way you can truly resonate with customers’ needs is through an iterative process of building prototypes, and constantly adapting them through repeated customer feedback until you get them right.  This way you allow potential users to react to the actual experience of a product or service, rather than an abstract idea, and to become co-creators rather than merely recipients.  

Embracing Uncertainty

  Design Thinking and Lean  Start-Up Methodology are two approaches that have been gaining prominence over  the last few years. They provide alternative frameworks and tools for creating  value for customers in the context of changing, uncertain environments and consumer needs. 

Lean Start Up methodology, best articulated by Eric Ries,  is based on the belief that creating a product or service in conditions of extreme uncertainty requires completely different approaches, metrics, criteria for success and processes for idea and product development than those employed when developing established lines of business and product categories. Given than today’s environment is one of uncertainly, Ries’ start-up methodology and mindset is essential to energize innovation in any organization.

Design Thinking  applies design principles to problem solving and  the crafting of products or solutions in place of linear planning and product development. According to Tim Brown, CEO and president of the innovation and design firm IDEO and a leading proponent of design thinking, this process is best  described as a system of spaces rather than a series of orderly steps.

Both approaches involve collaborative thinking and a process of iteration by which you build on each other’s ideas, immediately convert concepts into rapid prototypes and adjust by many iterations of customer feedback until you get it right.

Both design thinking and lean start up require a willingness to start on a course that may take you to unknown outcomes rather than to a destination you already have in mind and can visualize.   They help cultivate comfort with the unknown and the ability to start without the perfect plan or an answer you already have in mind. 




Lean Startup Meets Design Thinking

Google for Entrepreneurs


Check out this video below featuring both Eric Ries and Tim Brown, redefining business theory and management and  laying out tools and approaches for transforming your organization’s thinking,  capacity for innovation and ability to provide value to your members.