What’s the MVP for Your Innovation Method?
In the race to better understand and execute innovation initiatives, there’s a shared willingness to evolve strategies through approaches that have been successful elsewhere.
So — is it possible to use the Lean Startup Technique to develop an innovation method? Although it sounds a bit circular, the answer is yes!
Giving Employees a Platform
We here at Mindjet recently tested this theory with GE Energy Management, a division of GE that recognizes the value of enabling their employees to have a voice in identifying innovations. My team and I were asked to create a streamlined method to enable them to run internal corporate innovation challenges with minimal overhead, so that even small teams could innovate using the crowd. We were on a tight timeline, so we needed to iterate directly with end users in order to make the method simple and effective.
We decided to use lean startup techniques. Our first Minimal Viable Product (MVP) was a very basic outline of the tools we would create and how the method would work. We shared this with a team at GE over a conference call and got rapid feedback. The initial comments helped us understand how to change the look and feel of the tools, as well as the language, so that it was easier for GE Energy Management employees to use.
Our second iteration of the MVP was based upon an assumption that it would be easier for the end users if we broke the tools into two distinct parts: a strategic planning part and a tactical planning part. We went to GE Energy Management’s campus in Atlanta and tested directly with end users. GE has a strong Lean culture and their employees quickly identified ways to simplify the workflow.
From Assumption to Action
On the first day of testing, we learned that the users were able to use the tools. However, it would be simpler for them if we reassessed our original assumption and combined all of the disparate parts into one. We iterated the tools that night, and tested again the second day onsite with GE Energy Management employees. We learned that this version took less time and effort for the end user. We also learned some users’ behaviors that we could use to further simplify the interface. We tested over 10 versions of the tools that we iterated over 4 weeks.
“Mindjet’s MVP approach and their expertise with crowd-sourcing platforms helped us begin simplifying our processes by gathering our employees innovative ideas that we previously had not been able to use,” said Melissa Boudoux, Communications & Community Affairs Communications & Community Affairs at GE Energy Management. “This platform is already helping us become faster and simpler for ourselves and our customers.”
These tools are now in production, and we already plan on using them with other customers – it makes us confident that lean startup techniques are a great way to create and refine innovation methods.