This article first appeared as a guest post on the Where To Play blog.

Redirecting Innovation When It Really Matters

Your hypothesis didn’t bear out. Everyone makes the right noises but no one buys. Your idea suddenly feels less relevant in a global pandemic.

Sound familiar?

We’re often asked to help organisations to redirect innovation efforts. A team or organisation wants to capitalise on existing effort but they are not sure where to start. They might have a fully developed product but it isn’t getting the market traction that they thought it would. How do you avoid wasting hard work and investment?

If an organisation knows who their audience is, we help them to diagnose problems with existing programmes and help them to redevelop, fine-tune and focus with the N2D Method. However, sometimes we’re starting with a more open question. The organisation has skills and capabilities (often built/half-built) but they are not sure how to a) decompose and reassemble them into new ideas and b) whose needs they should care about.

At these times, we turn to a different set of tools that complement the N2D Method perfectly – we use the Market Opportunity Navigator.

We had a recent, interesting case, for using these tools in tandem.

Lots of early interest but no one willing to part with cash.

The problem: a developed product with no customers.

Our challenge was to identify new opportunities and help an organisation monetise their efforts and energy with a development in Augmented Reality. The conversation started just before a global pandemic. No-one in our working group knew this at the time.

Initially, we used the Market Opportunity Navigator to break down the existing product and team capabilities into components – the Lego blocks if you will. The tools provide a pragmatic and rapid process for rebuilding these blocks into new concepts and for quickly matching these with potential target markets. At the end of the first application of the Market Opportunity Navigator, we had identified an opportunity in the Agile Focus Dartboard which everyone was very excited about validating and could already see a path forward for.

The new concept, however, would be designed for the events and conference industry. It relied heavily on the requirement for large numbers of people to visit physical installations and gather and retain information. What played out across the planet shortly after threw immediate investment into this particular idea into serious doubt.

Having captured a wide range of other ideas in the Market Opportunity Navigator process (over 50), it was easy to assess a bank of alternatives. However, with a rapidly evolving environment in which to operate, we needed to scenario plan too. At this time in the UK, it was evident that there would be two major factors in future product success: the continuation of social distancing and an economic recession.

Scenario planning: What stays in the Gold Mine?

As a company comfortable with scenario planning, which forms a large part of our work with the N2D Method, adapting how we used the Market Opportunity Navigator tools to view these opportunities through different potential scenarios was relatively simple. We assessed the opportunities against a set of socio-economic scenarios describing a variety of pandemic-related restrictions.

We used an application called Coda to create a simple replica of the Market Opportunity Navigator tools that would allow us to easily compare our scenarios right next to each other. This allowed for discussion and agreement on the assessment scores to be convenient and relatable, easily able to revisit a score if the later discovery led to a change of our understanding.

The results: clear identification of two new opportunities which appeared in the ‘Gold Mine’ area of the Attractiveness Map regardless of the scenario. In a fast-changing environment, we have been able to easily identify concepts that have the potential to deliver value even against the stark reality and uncertainty of a global pandemic.

Our next step? Validate with research and use the N2D Method to prioritise the Jobs To Be Done that are most important to customers and the organisation using our ‘Needs Matrix’ tool. We will then identify which needs are underserved and overserved in the market using the ‘Service Scorecard’. The unique properties of the final tool, the Initiative Scorecard, will allow us to dispassionately assess and prioritise potential functions and features of the product. It will also prioritise initiatives for marketing, ideas for business models and how to structure their organisation around the product.

These two complementary tools work brilliantly hand-in-hand to deliver a clear roadmap for innovation. They allow our clients to have clarity and confidence in their next steps.

The N2D Method helps innovators all over the world to get decision-making superpowers. Find out more here.