In 2015 the U.S. witnessed a 15 year high in investments with start-ups, and that’s only covering the venture capitalist funded companies. Much of the startup funding is attributed to new disruptive businesses and products by tech companies.
At Stride Consulting, we had the privilege to be a part of over a dozen startups in 2015 alone, helping deliver “wow experiences” to their customers. As unique as these business models were, more than 80% were scaling their product, market size, and the sheer number of tech teams required to support their plans for 2016.
To help with this common trend amongst our diverse clients, Stride used an approach based not on a single process, rather a framework using agile, lean, and design thinking.
At the core of our approach are three essential questions we consider to be incredibly effective. These questions help scale with the same surge of passion and innovation like the day of inception.
Question 1: Is your business continuously discovering ways to generate ideas systematically?
- Establish diversity in your idea sources like stakeholders, employees, customers, as well as research and analytics. Use metrics to identify if fresh ideas are being introduced at a healthy pace.
- Techniques like experience designing with users help quickly generate new ideas for greenfield initiatives. Invest in collaborative efforts bringing your organization, partners, and specialty customers together into ideation initiatives like hackathons and incubator programs.
Question 2: Do you have confidence in which ideas to invest in and which ones to trash?
- Build mechanisms to validate ideas against your strategies, KPIs. Fail fast those ideas that do not serve your customers.
- High performing startups apply mental models like design thinking, agile, and lean to establish techniques like business canvas, customer journeys, rapid-prototyping, and MVPs. This can help bring the best ideas to top via meaningful feedback from customers.
- Engage with your customers about your ideas via social channels and establish ways to actively measure your brand value.
Question 3: Do your teams have the appropriate skills, practices, and technologies to deliver proven ideas to customers at scale and quality?
- Establish strong values that can stand the test of time at all levels of scale. Find ways to bring them into everyday language, and celebrate publicly when teams live them well.
- Align teams to own experiences and not processes, and enable a guidelines structure to help them act like mini-startups. Establish an active prioritization and customer feedback loop system that is highly transparent across the company.
- Automate repeatable actions and leave complex problem solving to highly skilled autonomous teams.
- Establish a strong culture of failing-fast and continuously improving. Retrospectives, kaizen events, and open-spaces techniques help identifying opportunities to improve.
As with any start-up, the first big idea your stakeholders and customers fell in love with is still an expectation today. You are either re-recruiting existing customers or losing them to another product with a similar idea, but better executed at speed and scale. We found the questions and techniques above to be very useful in creating a unique scaling approach for every client. What other questions would you add to this list?