Working Backwards to Outcomes

I struggle every day to bring to life my instincts about what could be at work. Quick to sense an opportunity, a possibility, I ramble and gesticulate my way towards an action and an outcome, frustrating those around me as much as I might enthuse them.

So, I am always scanning the horizon for quick understandings. On holiday recently, I flipped through a copy of Scott Anthony’s Little Black Book of Innovation. I learned a thing or two, or picked up some resonant points maybe.

These notes are for me, and for those who have to deal with me. Maybe they will resonant with you too:

Innovation definition: something different that has impact.

Boom! No empty ideas, we need to fail forward to an outcome. How will we change the / our world today?

Start with an answer and then work backwards to map out assumptions that would need to be true for that answer to be plausible.

“Work backwards” is my most common exhortation these days. Uncover a desire, unlock a learning, scan for an opportunity, align your ducks…only then, work out what it might mean, how to impart its power. It might be “unstrategic” but it can become really comfortable, like a well-fitting suit, if you have the confidence to follow-through and the capacity to deliver.

Develop a discovery driven plan to test the most critical assumptions. Be prepared to adjust depending on what you learn

Often, we produce something ‘cold’ to gauge reaction and learn about the process. Then, we go and sell (a version of) it. Then, we move to project sponsorship and production. If we are agile and opportunistic, and cut ourselves some slack, we will unlock value.

What does the customer want or need? From Peter Drucker:

The customer rarely buys what the business thinks it’s selling. Nobody pays for a ‘product’. What is paid for is satisfaction. The Company might think it sells products or provides services; the customer has a problem or a job to be done.

People don’t want drills. They want holes.Solving the problem suddenly gets way more complicated, and way more interesting too.

By the time the writing is on the wall, everyone can read it. – Seeing What’s Next – Clayton Christensen et al

Consequently, we are no longer required. We must move to a place of discomfort, perhaps not continually, but persistently. As we master something, we can seek to automate it or process map it so that it becomes an ambient cognitive load. This frees us up for fresh challenge.

Bringing ideas to life: try new approaches…eg

  • 90sec videos
  • Mock magazine adverts
  • Prototypes
  • Storyboards
  • Skits
  • Semi fictional websites
  • Newspaper articles

For us, we have mocked up a culture wall, gerry-rigged a digital display, hosted open houses, run pecha kucha sessions – all for input and creative stretch. We grow strong through experimentation.

Tomorrow is another day.

←This Much We Know.→

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