In March this year Mike Harley of XPotential was on his way to The Central Coast to deliver the first in a series of 3 Fast ‘n Furious Innovation Workshops in partnership with The Central Coast Food Alliance and FIAL, when Covid -19 hit and threw a massive spanner in the works. XPotential were forced to ‘practice what they preach’ and rapidly innovate to produce a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to replace the ‘live’ version of the programme. Thus Fast ‘n Furious Innovation ‘The Virtual Edition’ was born!
Research conducted by McKinsey and Co highlights the importance of tying innovation strategy and objectives into the core business strategy and goals. Over 90% of businesses participating in our short course had not established clear financial goals for their innovation pipeline, nor had they established a portfolio balance that assessed short term ‘incremental’ innovation e.g. line extensions such as new flavours with’ step-change’ innovation, new category or channel entry or different business models. Every business has a limited resource pool and capability, so this must be a starting
Innovation During Uncertain Times
Innovation could be one of the most important business, social and economic activities to be undertaken during the uncertainty of the Covid era. However, our success rates at innovating are low. According to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, 95% of new products fail.
The failure rate isn’t attributable to the product or the technology, but because often companies are innovating ‘solutions’ for non-existent problems, i.e., products that consumers don’t want/need.
Ash Maurya (creator of the one-page business modelling tool Lean Canvas) -says “Most startups fail, not because they fail to build what they set out to build, but because they waste time, money, and effort building the wrong product. I attribute a significant contributor to this failure to a lack of proper ‘problem understanding’ from the start.”
Our Fast ‘n Furious Innovation Programme is built with this at the forefront of our minds – We believe that the customer/ consumer problem should be at the heart of the Innovation process, so we dedicate 100% of the available time in the first half of the programme to identify the early adopter and build a profile on them – digging deep to discover WHO they are, WHAT they want and WHY.
Building The Virtual Model
We took the key modules from our ‘Live’ Workshop which is traditionally run over 1 full day and incorporated them into 3 weekly sessions. We increased Week 1’s session to 2.5 hours after running the first virtual workshop when we realised that the timing was too tight.
We retained the 1 – hour pre workshop Briefing Session and the Optional 1 -hour Post workshop Mentoring Sessions and added additional weekly coaching calls , which all participants were invited to attend.
The Structure Applied Innovation – Learning, Coaching & Mentoring
- 5 hours virtual live group learning time
- 5 hours in workshops over 3 weeks
- 3 hours coaching over 3 weeks
- 2 hours company specific Briefing set-up and Mentoring
- 4 weeks online feedback back and advice during the course
Launching of the ‘Virtual’ Programme in May 2020 has enabled us to move from recruiting in a limited geographic pool of companies to a cohort of geographically dispersed organisations and individuals (including Western Australia and overseas). It has also facilitated the increase of time allocated to coaching and mentoring throughout the program while reducing the costs in terms of travel and printing expenses. Three cohorts have now completed the virtual programs in 2020 with positive feedback as well as learning for the future.
There are further improvements planned for the course in 2021 through the use of video and online content which can be adapted specifically for the needs of a variety of industries.
VIRTUAL TIME FRAME FLOW
While Weeks One and Two primarily focus on The Customer – understanding who they are and what problems they have, Week Three is all about building the ‘MVP’, the Minimum Viable Product.
- Identify your Innovation Challenge
- Identify your Target Consumer / Early Adopter
- Identify Target Consumer Problem
- Explore and Validate the Problem
Follow up Optional 1-hour Coaching Session
- Developing your MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
- FLEARN : Test, Measure, Fail Fast
Follow up Optional 1-hour Coaching Session
The short course content structure stays the same whether run Face-to-Face or Live Virtually on Zoom
- Fast-track commercialisation of a specific opportunity
- Processes and tools applicable to large, medium and small businesses
- Innovation Competencies Health-check to stimulate prioritisation of improvement opportunities
- Broader business & innovation strategy guidance & mentoring
Of the 12 completed Fast ‘n Furious Workshops so far, 9 have been in-person, and 3 have been virtual. 138 people from 71 companies have participated, with 37 of those individuals (more than 1/4) virtual attendees – including an International participant and several time zones in Australia.
Various Companies have launched their MVP’s after completing ‘The Fast ‘ n Furious Workshops, including 2 of the virtual companies ‘Life Health Foods’ and Spiralz Foods .
Life Health Foods
Fast n Furious…… it was about getting things done!. ‘The specific project really helped develop the understanding. If we’d just done a workshop we never would have had a new product ready for the Craft Fair in 2 ½ Months. – Seven Shed’s Tasmania
“You Nailed it in One Day” “We got a lot of value for our Money” “Light bulb moments going off”- See3 Trading, Tasmania
“Pre-work was helpful”, “It’s a full-on day!”, ”Got value from all elements of the workshop” – Fresh Fodder, NSW
Virtual Live Course
This program is great for a range of businesses. It really excites me to take this back to the business and see what actions we can implement. The level of information and how Mike ensures you have complete understanding of each section is great. I just wish we had some more time to maybe use some of the tools provided as a group to demonstrate how we could use them in our business. I’m a visual and hands on learner though so maybe that’s just me.
Abby – Life Health Foods
Time management was better, just loved the breakout room idea and the hand raise option so Mike could answer questions at the right time was great. Loved it thank you so much, it’s obvious Mike really cares and I really appreciated his time and effort. Excellent program.
Michelle – Spiralz