Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Nonprofits, Innovation, & Lean Startups
You want to drive innovation throughout your nonprofit, but you don’t think you have the time or money to try new things. You would benefit from learning about the “Lean Startup” method – which is the current model that businesses use to develop new products and entrepreneurs use to start new companies.
Here are some of the key ideas of Lean Startup that apply to nonprofits:
*Experiment. You don’t have to have everything figured out at the beginning to try out a new program/service. Use an experimental mindset.
*Develop a Minimal Viable Product/Program. This is a scaled down version of the program that you want to run, but it is robust enough to make the impact that you intend. If it works as an MVP then you can scale it for more impact.
*Listen and Learn. Use the MVP with small selected groups of people and be open to feedback from them. Measure your results.
*Pivot. Be prepared to take the feedback and make continual changes until you get it right – until the program is making the impact you really want.
Example. Imagine you have a brilliant idea for a new program to provide to those you serve in your community. But you know it is going to cost a lot of money to scale up and hire the staff you need to serve everyone.
What to do? Try a Lean Startup! Develop the program idea to a point that it is a Minimum Viable Program – it is robust enough to make an impact.
Then use some of your current staff to try it out on a smaller subset of people you serve. Treat it as an experiment you can learn from. Make improvements as you listen and learn.
Once you have made changes based on the feedback and you are ready to scale it, you can take the results of what you learned to funders.
Use the Lean Startup approach to try new programs/services, see what works, and expand your Mission Impact.
For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost. You can also check out my book, Mission Impact: Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested. And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.
Posted by Dr. Rob Sheehan at 8:05 AM