Validating Innovation

Validating Innovation

Look Outside for Innovation Answers

Believing that all innovation must come from internal sources is a significant barrier. Too few companies look outside their walls or industry for new or novel value creation when validating innovation. By default, digital transformations tend to look inward because individuals are trying to enhance their systems rather than looking outward for insights and answers.

Taking an Outside Perspective

This approach might have made sense when the outside world was slow-moving. Now industry after industry is rapidly changing. The number of new startups, technologies, and markets make it far more likely for a company with an excellent outside perspective to be able to leverage and learn at a much more rapid pace externally versus relying on a handful of individuals within their walls.

Engaging with Customers Directly

Looking outside also means engaging with your customers directly. It’s easy to assume you know what’s best without getting outside the building to validate, test, and learn first-hand from the market. My teams have fallen into this trap.

A New Product No One Wanted

Before studying innovation, I once was part of a software development team that spent $500k to build a new product that no one wanted. Worse than that, we spent almost a year before figuring out that we were on the wrong path. We were too dug into our assumptions and biases to realize there were alternatives if we had just gone outside to ask.

Many mistakes were made along the way, but the biggest was not engaging with the market. We took too long and tried to be too perfect before letting our customers try it. We failed to anticipate market changes and focused our time and energy on building features that no customer wanted. The sales reps had given us the information about our customers’ desires, but we never validated these assumptions.

Validating Innovation and Assumptions

We failed to understand that our current customers were different from the potential customers for the new product. We waited too long to tap into our existing network of customers and partners and moved slowly and methodically when the market and competitive demands required speed and iteration.

Assuming the plan that we developed was fact, put us in land of uncertainty.  We were acting like the outcomes outlined at the beginning of the journey were wholly accurate. All we would need to do was execute the plan, and all would be well.

Solving a Problem that Didn’t Need Solving

The product we made was quite good. Solid in its execution, user experience, and functionality. The trouble was that it wasn’t a product anybody wanted. We became enamored in implementing and optimizing what we were building. We solved a problem that didn’t need solving – at least to the degree and complexity we executed.

Get an Outside Perspective

Since those days, I’ve seen far bigger mistakes repeatedly happen, organization after organization. Multiply these activities across project after project and company after company, and the loss of value adds up. You can avoid many of these issues by working on gaining an outside perspective and validating innovation. How do you do it?  Let us know at brian@insideoutside.io.

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