Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lean Innovation

Once I was teaching a group of executives about generating innovation through the power of setting almost impossible goals (read more here if you are interested).  One executive responded:

“So, you want me to risk bankrupting my organization by placing a big bet on a new idea?”

“Uhhh, no," I responded.

Some people think that innovation is an all or nothing deal and they catastrophize possible failure.  When you set an Almost Impossible Goal here are three SMART things you can do.  These ideas are inspired by Eric Ries’s book, The Lean Startup:

1.  Spend lots of time brainstorming over multiple sessions.  You want to generate lots of new ideas.  From my last blog and Adam Grant’s book, Originals: “In fact, when it comes to idea generation, quantity is the most predictable path to quality.”  “Many people fail to achieve originality because they generate a few ideas and then obsess about refining them to perfection.”

2.  Experiment.  Select what you think is the best idea and run very small experiments.  Create what is known as a Minimal Viable Product (or Program/Service) that you can test out in the real world.  Important – collect DATA from REAL possible users of the product/program/service.  Make the product/program/service as “minimal” as possible.  Test various options.

3.  Be agile and nimble.  Be prepared to “pivot” – to make changes, small or large, to your original idea.  If the data shows that you have an idea that does not work, try something else!

Innovative ideas do not require tens of thousands or even thousands of dollars to test in the real world and give you an idea if an idea might work.  Use the Lean Innovation approach to create even more effective ways to make a Mission Impact.

*Check out these articles from Stanford Social Innovation Review to learn more:  “Is Your Nonprofit Really Ready to Use the Lean Startup” (March 5, 2014), “The Promise of Lean Experimentation” (Summer 2015).

For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site.  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.

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