Recently I had the great privilege of presenting at the 2018 Mindshop Conference on how to embrace lean startup principles to accelerate innovation.

Business needs faster innovation with lower risk

More innovation, faster, with lower risk. Easy to say – not so easy to achieve. Yet more and more organisations are now turning to hackathon-style events and lean startup methods for a competitive edge.

Here are some questions for you and your organisation:

  • How can you create and bring innovation to the market much more quickly?
  • How can you substantially reduce the risk – and cost of market failure?
  • How can you help your organisation change its culture to become more innovative?
  • How can you apply lean innovation thinking to deliver value faster?

Using my own recent experience as a facilitator at the Western Power Albany Energy Self Sufficiency Hackathon (more on that below), as part of the Atomic Sky team.

For an insight into the hackathon, please watch the video below:

How Western Power is Doing Things Differently

The first Energy Self-Sufficiency Hackathon in Western Australia was focussed on an audacious and plausible goal of achieving energy self-sufficiency for the Albany region.

This innovation event included a range of energy sector experts collaborating on the problem. Western Power provided subject matter experts, energy usage data and information on infrastructure needs.

The teams were diverse, and incorporated a blend of large and small companies, researchers and entrepreneurs that otherwise may not have had such an opportunity to collaborate.

Solutions included leveraging areas like micro-grids, stand‐alone power systems, #renewables, #blockchain, the Internet of Things and smart networks.

Fiona Bishop, Executive Manager Change & Innovation said “Western Power is doing things differently. The hackathon has helped us continue to be a competitive business that is a platform for customer choice – to choose energy solutions that suit their unique energy needs, even if the solutions don’t exist yet.”

As a result of the hackathon, Western Power commenced a six-month process with the winner of the hackathon (Pure Power) to further develop their idea and see if they can create a viable solution for the Albany region.

Ms Bishop said, “Pure Power’s proposal wasn’t just a good outcome for the Albany region in terms of energy self-sufficiency, but also the broader community in applying a waste-to-biofuels solution. It was their holistic community-minded approach that nudged them over the line.”

(*The above covers some of the key points covered in the article that appeared at How does a banana peel become the key to reliability for disruptive technologies and subsequent article.

7 Reasons to use Lean Startup Thinking

Should we all embrace the lean startup coolaid and apply it everywhere through our businesses? Is this part of the new normal, or is it a means of challenging and stretching us to be different?

Here are seven reasons why organisations may consider lean startups relevant to them:

  • To rapidly understand the business model of a proposed new concept and identify areas for further development
  • To ensure startup / emerging / technology business leaders are thinking the entire business model rather than just focussing on the new product or service
  • To help drive product and service innovation
  • To respond to disruptive activity from competitors
  • To undertake strategic planning in a different way
  • To develop scenario planning and challenge current thinking
  • To create cultural change

Facilitators Lessons: 6 Mistakes Innovators Make

There are many challenges in creating innovative ideas and developing a sound path to market.

Here are a few mistakes that I’ve seen repeatedly made as innovators move along the path from concepts to really strong ideas:

  • Focusing only on the solution (isn’t the problem and the market self-evident and falling in love with the product
  • Overestimating the benefit gained from differentiation that prospective customers consider minor
  • When getting negative feedback, deferring to “they just don’t get it” as opposed to using the feedback to improve
  • Underestimating the marketing effort to get traction in the market
  • Underestimating effort to build something (you can get an app on Freelancer for $10,000 and build a billion-dollar business with it, right?)
  • Thinking that building marketplaces are easy
  • Thinking that “it is hard to find” automatically means there is a big opportunity

How to Get Lean

If you haven’t already, I’d heartily recommend you to find an opportunity to get along to an event. And if you are thinking of putting on an event, make sure you get assistance from quality facilitators who understand how to make an event like this work. Getting high energy from the get-go is critical. Involve people at all levels of an organisation, and ensure diversity of age; it isn’t just a young person’s sport.