May 04

How to treat problems as challenges and do something about it! (3/4)

We all get ideas daily, we complain and talk about how we could make something better. But few people treat problems as challenges and do something about it. The responsibility for the organization's future lies on all employees, not only on the management's shoulders. That is also the focus of the third article in a series created as part of the PODIM Conference and its activities for disruptive innovation in established companies.
From observing to testing
Observe, think, communicate. Check the problems you noticed, your ideas and solutions with potential customers. If you get enough positive feedback, present it – and your passionate story – to your co-workers and the management, and let them know what would be good to do.

I have an idea is not enough!
If you try to get attention only with “I have an idea”, it isn't very likely that you’ll succeed. Solving challenges is a lot more than just generating ideas. With ideas, solving the challenge actually only begins.
How to present a new opportunity
When talking to management, which has assets at its disposal, you have to agree on at least three crucial elements:
  • target customer segment,
  • real-life problem you're solving, and
  • the value you would provide for customers and the organization.
If they don't understand you ...
There is a big chance that the management, co-workers and later on clients won't really understand you, because they don't think about the thing as much as you do and in the same way. For a bigger impact and more effective communication, help yourself with the techniques also known to startups:
  • Simon Sinek - Golden Circle (about the importance of the answer to the question why)
  • Elevator pitch (an effective one-minute address, meant to attract attention and get an opportunity to tell more)
  • Sequoia pitch (pitch structure that professional investors expect)
  • Kawasaki 10-20-30 (about the presentation structure with 10 points in 20 minutes and font size 30).
Organize a team and select a leader
Every team must have a leader. The leader isn't necessarily the main author of the idea or innovation. Don't trouble yourself with the organization. It's temporary, until you find a business model worth investing into. At least at the beginning, work with the smallest possible team, but not too small.
Technology, users and market
In an ideal case scenario, two to three complementary co-workers are necessary for the stage of researching the problem and potential solutions. Content-wise, they cover development (technology), design (users) and marketing (market).
The management should authorize free Fridays
It's great if company management authorizes free Fridays, to which you will have to add at least two days of work in the afternoons or over the weekend. Otherwise, it just won't work or it will take too long.
The most uncertain assumptions take priority
The point of lean development is to systematically get rid of uncertainties, and not just any. The most uncertain assumptions with the biggest impact take priority. Confirm or reject those first. Go out of the building. Take enough time for the markets and face-to-face contact with customers. Don't hire external colleagues to verify problems and solutions.
Time is worth more than money
The success of every team depends on the time you manage to invest into discovering problems and designing solutions. Remove everything that takes time and energy away from faster work on your internal startup project. Don't start new things without thinking them over and deciding what you will stop doing or what you will give up. Your time is worth more than money. There will often be no second chance.
Work with your colleagues
Be a small consumer who makes the most out of the freely available resources in their organization. Regularly communicate and collaborate with other departments, and don't be afraid of different opinions. Involve the management, co-workers, customers, business partners, the public. Others' experiences are a very important shortcut for your own experiences. And especially, why would you reinvent the wheel, racking your brains and reaching dead ends because of a problem that someone else can solve quickly and effectively.
Fall in love with the problem, not the solution
And finally, this. The secret of your success is falling in love with a problem worth solving. If you fall in love with the right problem, you will also find the right solution for it. Meanwhile, the owners of the problem will return your love sooner or later, and start paying for the solutions. 
Lojze Bertoncelj, MSc, 30Lean, dr. Alexis Zrimec, Abelium, prof. dr. Miroslav Rebernik and Matej Rus, MSc (Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Maribor, and Venture Factory, Initiative Start:up Slovenia).

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
For more guidelines and real-life experience on how to effectively innovate in established companies, the best way to take advantage of this year's PODIM Conference is to decide for the PODIM PRO package.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Together, we are trying to spread best practices of the lean startup way of developing new business models, and simultaneously connect established experienced managers with innovative startup entrepreneurs
  • The Managers' Association of Slovenia, helping managers deal with challenges of implementing digital changes whose tempo is dictated by rapid, lean and innovative startup companies with their disruptive digital products and services.
  • Initiative Start:up Slovenia as the provider of key national programmes for startups and connector of public and private stakeholders of the Slovenian startup ecosystem, summarizing its activities every year at the PODIM Conference.
  • Business daily Finance with the media project Startupozavri or Startuposauruses, in which they highlight startup freshness in established Slovenian companies and thus contribute to healthy development of entrepreneurial spirit in the Slovenian society.
  • 30Lean as an established consultant and mentor of lean innovation in already established organizations, mentor of startup teams of the Slovene Enterprise Fund, ABC Accelerator and others, and the leading partner of the Slovenia Running Lean movement. 
Our first joint activities include gathering and sharing these types of good and bad experiences, and co-creating PODIM Conference content for established companies