“They refused to give it back”

Giff Constable innovation, lean

If you are interested in corporate innovation, you will enjoy Scott Anthony’s article in the September HBR magazine, The New Corporate Garage.

Key takeaways:

1. exciting things happen when you can engage in simultaneous business model innovation and technical innovation

2. it was interesting how many of the author’s examples involved hardware, where big companies have an advantage and where more traditional “waterfall” approaches make more sense than software.

3. Even though some efforts, like the water purifier, took 10 years, I feel like they are aligned with our “lean” approach.

The primary reason is that these ideas are must-haves, not nice-to-haves.

If you gave a working “minimum viable product” of Unilever’s water purifier to a villager in rural India, and then asked for it back, they would refuse.

When we work with our clients on a new innovation, that is the signal we are looking for. It is a high bar, but a good bar. We want to create MVPs where the customer “refuses to give it back”.

It is really easy to kill ideas in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons. We actually do try to kill ideas. We do this because we’re hoping to see the customer fight for it in some way, even if we have to filter their reaction through the context of an incomplete, imperfect product.