The way we build products has fundamentally changed.
There were 100M new startups created globally in 2018. That's 1 new startup every 3 seconds!
Source: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor
We are living through a global entrepreneurial renaissance which creates a huge opportunity for all of us.
It also fundamentally changes how products are built.
Today, it is no longer enough to simply build what customers say they want, because by the time you build that, you learn that what they really wanted was something quite different.
In this new world, the only way to ensure you build what customers want is to engage them continuously.
The old way of building products used to work at a time when there were huge barriers to entry and few competitors. Even if you got the product completely wrong, you had time to course correct and get back on track.
But fast forward to today…with the Internet, open source, and cloud computing, it has become cheaper and faster than ever to introduce new products which means there is a lot more competition than before—both from incumbents and new companies starting up all over the world.
In the old world, failing to deliver what customers wanted led to failed projects. But in the new world, continually failing to deliver what customers want, leads to total business model failure.
This is because customers today have a lot more choices than they did before. If they don’t get what they want from your product, they simply switch to something else.
On the other spectrum, the most successful companies today realize that good ideas are rare and hard to find. And that the best way to find the next big idea is by quickly testing lots of ideas.
While the early adopters for this new way of working were certainly high-tech startups mostly building digital products, over the years continuous innovation has been increasingly applied in many different domains and it works even at massive scale.
Some of the most valuable companies in the United States like Google, Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, etc. all practice a culture of rapid experimentation.
The best way to find the next big idea is to continuously test lots of ideas.
Companies that learn fast, outlearn their competition and get to build what customers really want.
When you outlearn your competitors once, you stand to launch a new innovative product and capture market share. But whatever is worth copying will eventually be copied. It is only by continuously outlearning your competition, do you stay relevant to your customers and see your business model continuously thrive and grow.
This is the essence of Continuous Innovation. When you’re going really fast under conditions of extreme uncertainty, you can’t afford to spend long cycles analyzing, planning, and executing your idea. You need a more iterative approach that involves continuous modeling, prioritizing, and testing.
As opposed to stop and go innovation, continuous innovation is a mindset of constantly challenging the status quo — even if you currently are the status quo.
Too many people fail at Continuous Innovation because they start in the wrong place, cherry-picking tactics without first internalizing the underlying mindsets behind them. Continuous Innovation is a fundamentally new way of working and thinking.
Simply copying a bunch of tactics will not work.
Practicing continuous innovation requires several fundamental mindset changes that challenge the current status quo product development process you have been taught or currently follow.
Mindset shifts are universal principles, like first principles in science, that serve as the building blocks for developing better critical thinking and problem-solving processes.
While we rightly place a lot of emphasis on doing, thinking precedes doing. And the quality of your output (results) is directly dependent on the quality of your inputs (ideas).
Mindsets define how we perceive the world around us.
If you believe that we are indeed living in a new world, then it should naturally follow that a new world requires new mindsets.
Here are the 10 mindsets that power the Continuous Innovation Framework:
These mindsets define the operating system layer of the framework.
Mindset shift is like a good tea — some steeping time is required and it can’t be rushed.
You need to
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Before building a skyscraper, you have to seemingly move in the opposite direction, digging a multi-story hole for the foundation.