Earlier this year, Harvard Business School released an article that lists the “Eight Essential Questions for Every Corporate Innovator”. With over 1100 words, HBS’s article is very detailed, and to make things easier, we’ve summarized the questions and analysis:
1. What problem is the customer struggling to solve? It is the innovator’s job to figure out what the consumer wants. Spend some time looking at what problems consumers are complaining about, and this is what your company should try to address.
2. Which customers can’t participate in a market because they lack skills, wealth, or convenient access to existing solutions? If you’re looking for new consumers, expand your target audience. Making your product or service simpler, easier, or more affordable is a great way to encourage more people to become your customers.
3. Where are we overshooting the market by providing features that users don’t care about and don’t want to pay for? The obvious followup question is, why make features that people won’t use? It’s a waste of time and resources to create products that your consumers don’t want. Plus, it distracts you from creating better alternatives.
4. If you were going to disrupt your company, how would you do it? Disruption still seems to blindside far too many companies (think Blockbuster or Encyclopædia Britannica for instance). In order to stay ahead, think about what your competitors are doing, and more importantly, how innovators might approach the challenges facing your industry.
5. Who has already solved the problem you are trying to address? Odds are someone has already solved the problem you’re seeking to solve. Inspiration might come from a different industry, country, or company, but when you find it, applying that approach to your problem can shorten R&D times dramatically.
6. What can you do that few other companies in the world can do? Zeroing in on what makes you unique maximizes the chances of creating a powerful and compelling offering.
7. What assumption are you making that, if false, would blow your strategy up? Even the best idea can be thrown for a loop by “unexpected” circumstances. Experiment fast and fail fast. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t as soon as possible makes it possible to adjust your business model as efficiently as possible.
8. How can you learn more affordably and efficiently? Experiments need not be complicated and expensive. Experiment with a rough prototype before it is distributed en masse. Invest a small budget in a new form of advertising before you launch a huge campaign. Experiment, experiment, experiment…this will ensure the most ROI.
Any other questions that might be useful? Let us know in the comments.