I went to an open event at Vlerick, and Prof. Miguel Meuleman gave us a talk on the Entrepreneurial Mindset. He gave us good tips to find business ideas. Based on the six-year study behind the book The innovator’s DNA, he mentioned these 4 discovery activities that the authors have identified as the ones in which innovative entrepreneurs spend more time:
The good news is that anybody can nurture these behaviors.
Miguel used a restaurant to illustrate how to question the status-quo: What do you need to have a restaurant? We quickly came up with a list:
- a venue,
- a cook,
Now, question each of the assumptions: how could you have a restaurant without capital? how without a venue? without marketing?… He even gave us an example of a restaurant without food! (If you wonder, it was in a seafood market, where you could buy your own fish and bring it to the restaurant that cooked it for you 🙂
If you analyse your answers, you may see that to overcome one of the traditional assumptions (like needing capital to launch a restaurant) you are using a new trend (like crowdfunding). Our assumptions come from years of doing something in the same way, but then thanks to a technological advance, a new tool, a new trend, those assumptions are not true anymore.
When discovering a new trend we have to reflect on what it means to our business, is it challenging one of the basic assumptions we worked with before? What are the problems that can be solved with this trend? Is it creating new expectations from our customers? (As example of this, KBC is now offering a contact channel through Whatsapp)
Miguel suggests us to look at dating sites like Tinder 🙂 Successful dating sites are designed to attract people, they are rich in new ideas of presentation. The idea behind is to look at new startups websites to find good design ideas. When something is easy to use, it usually catches up quickly and soon your customers will want it in your site too.
Observe your customer, think of your customer’ journey. As an example, Nordstrom innovation lab designed an ipad app to help customers choose their lenses in a very Agile way: they installed the whole team (developers, designers,.. even the SCRUM board!) directly in one shop, and they follow the customer to see how they walked around, what they were looking at, how they finally chose their lenses. They came with a working prototype within a day, and asked real customers to try it, so they could see immediately the functionalities that were missing, or the ones that were not user friendly.
Experimenting is not just trial and error. It has to be designed. Facebook is not the same to everyone, there are many versions of the application running simultaneously, they can quickly see which features work better. To look for ideas, Miguel suggests us to look at the Airbnb site: they share all the experiments that they do with their users.
The idea is to talk to people about the new ideas, to discuss the problems to be solved, to come up with different options of your initial product. See people’s reaction, incorporate their insight to your initial idea.
At the actual pace of change in our society, we should do this regularly, to systematize the process of innovation and don’t become a dinosaur (professionally speaking).