They say timing is everything, but learning is pretty important too!


They say timing is everything, but learning is pretty important too!



When did the first humans appear? 2 million years ago? 400,000 years ago? The answer is, well, it’s complicated. Importantly, it didn’t ‘happen’ as an event; that is, it wasn’t a case of no humans one day and then humans the next. Humans evolved into what we are today over a period of time, hence the complicated nature of the answer. And we are, of course, continuing to evolve!

We often use this example when we speak with organisations about how they are implementing or commercialising their innovations. When was your new ‘product’ finalised? At which point did your new value proposition become what it is today? The answer, if you follow a best-practice process, should be: it’s complicated.

A common mistake many organisations make is to ‘launch’ or implement a product innovation by developing it to a certain point and then ‘releasing it’ into the world, perhaps then measuring its success on various dimensions to see whether it hits the mark. The best-practice approach however, is to start testing in market (usually amongst a limited and carefully selected customer group) and then learning and iterating on the innovation from then on, typically whilst expanding the customer group(s). The learning and iterating should never stop, even when the innovation is implemented or the product is generating forecasted revenues – not only will this improve customer value, it will extend the useful lifecycle of the product or innovation as well.

Whilst of course a launch event might take place at a specific time when an innovation or product enters a market or when a marketing campaign begins, if you have followed a best-practice process, it is likely that holistically, the actual precise timing of a product’s ‘finalisation’ should be difficult to pin down. If you would like to start testing your next product or innovation using this type of process, try the following steps:

  1. Once your initial idea is clear, set the key hypotheses which relate to how it will create and capture value. In other words, for the idea to be successful, what needs to be true that we think is true but which we are yet to prove?
  2. Prioritise these, putting the ones which you think are the riskiest ones at the top of your list
  3. Start running experiments which test the hypotheses with a small group of customers who you believe will maximize the learnings relating to the hypotheses (hint: don’t simply build a scrappy version of the final product, there are better ways to test hypotheses – but more on that in a future post!)
  4. Keep setting hypotheses and testing them throughout not only the ‘launch’ phase but throughout the product or innovation’s lifecycle.

If you would like to talk about commercialising innovations to best effect (using best-practice methods) I really would love to hear from you!

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