Strategy & Innovation

How to succeed in your innovation project like no other!

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An innovation project is built differently than a normal project, to help you succeed, we will present you a simple approach: the innovation pyramid, which transforms assumptions into validated knowledge and leads to business plans built on solid foundations.

The Innovation Pyramid

An innovation project is characterized by the absence of historical data on the activity, which is by definition new. Therefore, forecasting, planning and budgeting techniques cannot be applied. Business plans built without recognizing this difference are doomed to failure and explain the catastrophic success rates of startups.

To correct this problem, we will introduce you to a simple approach: the innovation pyramid, which transforms assumptions into validated knowledge and leads to business plans built on solid foundations.

Difference between an innovation project and a classic project

What fundamentally distinguishes an innovation project from a traditional project? The former, by definition, aims to achieve something that has never been done before, something for which there is no history or prior experience to rely on.
Yet all human activities of anticipation rely on the existence of historical data. The financier forecasts his budget based on past experience, the trader anticipates based on past trends, the project manager plans and evaluates workloads based on what has worked and what has not worked in other similar situations. When the architect designs a new building, even a larger or taller one, he benefits from the knowledge accumulated since the first pyramid sites.

The innovator explores unknown territories without a map; he navigates on the great ocean of uncertainties. The success rates of innovation projects are catastrophic because creators are asked to build business plans as for classical projects, planning and budgeting the future. A plan for the future built without prior experience is wrong. Startups die not from poor execution of the plan, but from perfect execution of the wrong plan.

Innovation Pyramid: Moving from theory to practice!

Breaking out of this spiral of unfounded planning requires the humility to admit that we don't know. A good innovation project starts with this simple idea, recently popularized by Game of thrones: "We know nothing". From this admission, there is a simple and common sense approach to successful innovation: identify what you don't know, verify your assumptions and create history as quickly as possible.
So how do you structure your innovation project to make it secure? By relying on a pyramid, like the architect, but on a very specific pyramid, that of innovation:

Succeed in your innovation project - Dynergie innovation pyramid
Innovation Pyramid Diagram - Dynergie

Over the next few articles, we will see, floor by floor, how to build on this innovation pyramid to turn your untested assumptions into validated knowledge, to start with a fair plan.

The basics to validate to make your project a success

In a few words, here are the key elements to identify:

  1. Pain points: At the base of every innovation project is a problem, a pain point in the world as it is today, which the innovator proposes to solve. If there is no problem, there is no project. This is the phase during which we try to understand the problem, the "Big Ugly Urgent Problem (BUUP)".
    As Einstein said, "If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem, and 5 minutes thinking about the solution". Understanding a problem requires patience and a true ethnological approach.
Einstein Quote - Problem Solution Innovation

  1. Solution finding: When the problem is well identified and the existing alternatives are well understood, it's time to think about the solution. From technological to practical approaches, from big budget blockbusters to JUGAAD innovation, through design thinking, you will see that the solution finding phase is not necessarily the most complex phase of a project.
  1. Problem-solution alignment: More important than the solution itself is its perception as a solution to the problem by the people for whom it is truly inconvenient. Sequoia Capital, the world's top venture capitalist sums it up in one sentence, "Focus on rich customers that you will delight with a compelling solution to a burning pain." The guide to easily checking your problem-solution alignment is coming 😉
  1. Basic assumptions: You now have an idea that might work. Now it's time to check the basics. The fundamental assumptions are those obvious things that are not obvious and that can kill your beautiful project: practical integration (the way the product is used is compatible with reality), legality (you won't go to jail!), cultural acceptance (be careful in these times of witch-hunting), there is a list of points to pay attention to, you can discover them in one of the next episodes.
  1. Develop your market: You know what to do, you know that you can sell your solution, there is still one point to check before launching: your ability to attract customers, your growth engine. Because growth is the core business of a startup, since it starts from nothing.

To help you build a business model entirely focused on growth, we will introduce you to the "Fast Growth Canvas", a tool entirely dedicated to relying on your customers to make your services known. This is the secret of the best unicorns of the last few years, it's what sets them apart from the rest, and it's what will turn your project into a huge success.

You are ready, with a reliable business plan

That's it, after admitting that, by definition, "you don't know anything" when you start an innovation project, you have, thanks to the pyramid, validated your bases. You now have real figures for the four values that make good business plans: the selling price, the production price, the customer acquisition cost, and the speed of customer acquisition.

If these numbers, which are no longer guesses but validated knowledge, show that your business will be profitable, it's time to start the project, and move to execution by placing yourself in the 5% of successful startups!

Sébastien Deschaux

Director of innovation and R&D. Research expert in innovation sciences. Partner.

Serial entrepreneur, engineer, incorrigible scientist, passionate about innovation, Lean Startup expert, activist for a better world. My job is simple: to transform innovative project ideas into profitable, high-growth businesses. To do this, there is no better strategy than to focus the value proposition until customers dream of buying. Then it's 100% action: sell, convince, develop, deliver and move forward. For project owners, working with me can be challenging. But it's also a guarantee to move forward at lightning speed, and to avoid spending several years of one's life living on the sidelines without moving forward on a project.

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