In Scope’s Innovation department, running projects involves testing early and often, and having the flexibility to change or even abandon ideas. In a guest post from Lindsey Caplan, she talks about how they’re testing a new innovation process:
At the start of October, my colleague Suzi and I had the opportunity to pilot the first stage of Co.Creator, a model for innovation. Zevae Zaheer developed the model and acts as a co-founder on many projects.
We were asked us to explore ways that we could enhance our Face 2 Face parent befriending service to expand its reach to people who don’t live near an existing service. She wanted us to see if we could develop our existing Face 2 Face online service to make use of social media and appeal to more people. The idea was that by combining our existing service with a digital offer, we could reach more parents and reduce costs.
Zevae‘s role as a co-founder was to guide us through various processes, test our hypotheses (guesses!) and help us identify possible solutions. We had an hour-long session with him each week. We all work in different parts of the country, so met online via tools like Skype, Google Hangouts and GoToMeeting, which meant that we could all see and hear each other. We both felt a bit apprehensive about meeting in this way but were surprised at how quickly we got used to it. It is possible to build great rapport during virtual meetings and we only all met in person at the end of the eight weeks!
The next challenge we both faced was getting our heads around the bamboozling language of innovation. Here’s a quick run down of some jargon:
Innovation Canvas – business information about a solution, including resources, funding sources and expected change.
Customer Script – customer responses to our hypothesis – is what we think what they think?
Value Proposition – the value that a customer could gain from our solution.
Pretotype – a quick, cheap test to check whether a breakthrough innovation appeals to its market.
Once we had mastered that, we were flying…literally, the pace was fast! Learning consisted of lots of reading, researching, watching various lectures online and ‘getting out of the building’. This means exactly what it says – not just sitting at a desk forming our own conclusions but actually going out and talking to the people who would be using our service.
We used Innovation Canvases to organise our thoughts and tell us who our customers were and then we created Customer Scripts. The scripts were useful in tailoring and framing our questions to ensure we were asking the right questions of the right people about the right things. The Value Propositions evolved from these conversations and helped us to come up with Pretotypes in the form of mocked up web pages that we then tested with customers.
At every stage, Zevae offered us support, guidance, encouragement and most of all, allowed us the freedom to think creatively and to not be afraid to pitch ideas, no matter how outlandish they seemed. We learned not to fall in love with our ideas and that it was OK to kill them off, if our research proved that we were on the wrong track.
This way of learning was a welcome and unique experience. Whilst there were challenging times – juggling this extra work with our day jobs and asking last minute favours of colleagues – the exciting moments we experienced when we stumbled across some fantastic and possible solutions made up for it! It’s great to now look at what we achieved, share learning and think about changes that could smooth the experience within Scope. We are looking forward to the next eight week ‘Solution and Scale’ stage of Co.Creator, where we expand the project team, develop and test one of the ideas we have come up with for real. Watch this space!