Boost Your Innovation Efforts

Submitted by guest blogger Elizabeth Weaver Engel, M.A., CAE, CEO & Chief Strategist, Spark Consulting LLC 

Have you ever had this experience?

Someone (chapter leader, staff, volunteer leadership) comes
up with a great idea for a new program, product, or service. Maybe it was even
specifically requested by members. Your team builds it, hopefully on time and
on budget. The result has lots of features, works easily and the way it’s
supposed to, and looks terrific to boot. And then it doesn’t perform up to
expectations or create the return on investment you envisioned.

What went wrong?

Maybe you identified the wrong audience. Or something you
thought was a real problem or need for them turned out not to be. Or the
solution you came up with wasn’t something that made sense to them at a price
they were willing to pay. You may have been relying on anecdotal evidence or untested
assumptions. Or maybe your project fell prey to the HIPO (the Highest
Income/Influence Person’s Opinion). Or some combination of the above.

In short, you invested your scarce resources working on the
wrong thing, which also means they weren’t available for a project that might
have had a better chance of success.

Is there a process that can help associations achieve our
missions, stay in business, find problems worth solving, and make a real and
meaningful difference for our members, achieving the sustainable, dynamic
impact we seek?

There is: lean startup methodology, as most fully developed
and articulated by Eric Ries in his 2011 book The Lean Startup. In Innovate the Lean Way: Applying Lean
Startup Methodology in the Association Environment
, we describe the key
concepts in lean startup methodology:

  • The
    Business Model Canvas
  • The
    Build-Measure-Learn Cycle
  • The
    Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
  • The

We also describe a variety of prototypes associations can
create, tests you can run against those prototypes, and things you can measure
along the way to proving or disproving your hypotheses about your audiences,
their key problems, and your proposed solutions to help ensure that you’re
investing your resources in the right solutions to the right problems for the
right audiences.

How does that work in real life? The whitepaper includes
case studies of four associations that are at various points in the journey of
learning to use lean startup methodology to innovate faster and more
successfully and some specific advice for how your association can get started
using this groundbreaking methodology to improve your own innovation efforts.

Download your free copy of Innovate the Lean Way:
Applying Lean Startup Methodology in the Association Environment