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Innovation&: Why you should quickly and cheaply disprove as many innovation ideas as possible

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

disprove innovation ideas

Image: There is never "too much" when it comes to ideas; instead, it's a matter of filtering the many innovation candidates through fast and cost-effective testing.

Discover why it's smarter to swiftly and inexpensively challenge your innovative ideas. From pipelines of diversity to early prototypes and MVPs – this article unveils how agile methods can amplify your chances of success. Learn how a low success rate works in your favor, as you learn from mistakes and expedite your journey of innovation. Read on to understand how to make the right decisions on the path to success in no time and disprove innovation ideas as quickly as possible.

Working with solution pipelines

An effective method to handle innovation ideas is working with so-called solution pipelines post-ideation. Instead of following a single idea, multiple ideas are pursued and tested in parallel. This approach allows for exploring various approaches to identify those with the most potential. The pipeline method fosters creativity and diversity in idea generation, even in the convergent phase, increasing the chances of discovering groundbreaking concepts.

Diverse solutions over a single solution

A common pitfall in ideation is fixating on THE one, singular solution. Often, one becomes enamored with an idea and invests considerable time and energy into its development without considering alternative approaches. On the other hand, pressure from hierarchy or investors often plays a significant role. This frequently leads to pursuing only solutions with the least risk or those aligned with prevalent industry or technology trends, or the so-called "experts who know what the market needs." Without data justifying the investment, this can result in wasting valuable resources if it turns out later that the idea is unfeasible, not marketable, or even a "me-too" innovation. To avoid this, it's advisable to generate a variety of solutions from the outset and critically evaluate them based on data.

Filtering solutions by characteristics

Not all ideas are equal, and it's crucial to filter them based on specific characteristics to sift out the most promising ones. When assessing ideas, various criteria can be applied, such as feasibility, customer benefits, technical requirements, and potential for future developments. By filtering ideas based on these characteristics, one can early on discern which approaches hold the most potential.

The prototype phase

A pivotal phase in validating innovation ideas is creating prototypes. Statistically, only about 5% of ideas progress to prototypes following initial iterations with the market and filtering. A prototype is an early version of a product or service designed to test and verify the idea in tangible form. It allows visualizing the concept and gaining initial experiences with the idea before significant investments are made.

Prototypes serve as a test run for ideas and concepts. They help identify and address potential technical challenges or other obstacles early on, reducing the risk of costly misinvestments. Furthermore, prototypes provide the opportunity to gather customer feedback and make iterative improvements before the final product is developed.

In this phase, it's crucial to focus on functionality and user-friendliness. The prototype should represent the core features and functions of the idea to facilitate a meaningful evaluation. Developing the prototype in close collaboration with potential users to better understand their needs and desires can be beneficial.

Market-ready as Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Of the many prototypes, only about 5% of them ultimately achieve market readiness as a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). An MVP is a stripped-down version of the end product, containing only the essential core functions or features. It's launched early to gather feedback from real users and test the market's response.

The MVP concept offers several advantages. Firstly, it enables quicker market entry, as the product doesn't need to be fully developed. This allows the company to obtain customer feedback early and iteratively improve the product from a validated backlog. Secondly, the MVP minimizes financial risk, as only limited resources need to be invested initially in development.

The MVP approach isn't relevant solely for startups and young companies but also for established companies looking to introduce innovative products or services. It facilitates an agile approach and swift adaptation to customer preferences and market developments.

Low success rate is normal

Only around 20% of MVPs are successful in the long run, achieving broad market acceptance. Many ideas that initially seemed promising might fail due to market demands, technical challenges, or other unforeseen factors.

While the success rate might seem low at first glance, it underscores the importance of failing early and learning from mistakes. Accelerated failure provides valuable insights and allows focusing on the most promising ideas. Each failed attempt provides valuable data and experiences that can be utilized in future innovations and developments.

The role of agile methods and techniques

Agile methods and techniques play a crucial role in implementing the described innovation strategy. Approaches such as Design Thinking and Lean Startup enable companies to efficiently and effectively test innovation ideas and continuously improve them.

Design Thinking is a creative problem-solving process heavily oriented towards user needs. It promotes team collaboration and focuses on understanding real customer problems and developing innovative solutions. By employing Design Thinking, companies can build a deeper connection with their customers and better understand their needs, resulting in higher innovation potential.

On the other hand, Lean Startup focuses on rapidly and cost-effectively validating ideas. Instead of spending months on a detailed business plan, an MVP is developed and tested in the market early on. Customer feedback is gathered, and the product is iteratively improved based on the insights gained. Lean Startup allows for rapid learning, experimentation, and better meeting market needs.

Successful company case studies

Many successful companies have successfully applied the described methods and techniques, achieving impressive results. One example is Dropbox. Instead of focusing on a single solution, the founders worked on a pipeline of solutions. This approach led to quickly developing a prototype that was enthusiastically received by many users. With a simple MVP, they achieved market readiness and continued to enhance their product based on user feedback.

Another example is Airbnb. The founders initially tested their idea with a simple prototype to gauge interest from users and hosts. Only after receiving positive responses did they develop an MVP and began continually expanding the product. This allowed them to rapidly respond to customer needs and establish a successful company.

Conclusion - Disprove innovation ideas

The strategy of swiftly and cost-effectively questioning as many innovation ideas as possible is crucial for success in today's dynamic business world. By working with solution pipelines, generating a variety of ideas, and filtering them based on specific characteristics, you can identify the most promising approaches and maximize innovation potential.

The prototype phase and achieving market readiness as an MVP allow testing ideas early and making iterative improvements. Agile methods like Design Thinking and Lean Startup support this process by fostering customer-centricity and rapid learning cycles.

It's important not to view the success rate of <0.1% of all ides as a failure but rather as an opportunity to learn and always develop and pursue a variety of ideas. Every failed attempt provides valuable insights and data that can be utilized in future innovations. By failing quickly, you can learn faster and focus on the most promising ideas that can bring long-term success.

Overall, the strategy of swiftly and cost-effectively questioning as many innovation ideas as possible is a wise approach to concentrate on the most promising approaches and develop more successful products or services in the long run. By relying on agile methods and learning from mistakes, you can maximize innovation potential and continually advance your company.


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