Notes on innovation: Fatal flaws, check for demand and having the right attitude

Interesting thread here:

I, too, have been a member of such teams and I have seen the danger in believing in your BS too much.

I’m not so sure about the fatal flaw hypothesis. In hindsight, it’s easy to blame failure on a factor like a fatal flaw and to credit some factor for success.

But, I don’t think either are so obvious before it hits the market.

I’m interested to know how these ideas were tested in market before launching to try to get some signal on what actual customer demand would be.

I’m sure a company like Google knows to do this, but on the same teams that I’ve seen with the rah-rah culture, I’ve also seen them avoid getting it to market until it was ready for prime time for various reasons.

Maybe they’re concerned a competitor will catch wind and beat them (which I don’t think is necessarily bad), they’ve been burned on releasing something before that wasn’t ready for prime time and felt that hurt the company’s reputation and sometimes they just assume it will be successful because it sounds like such a good idea.

It reminds me of what Barb Corcoran on Shark Tank said once.

An entrepreneur spent all his time getting the production ready so he would be ready to fulfill orders when they started rolling in, but hadn’t even tried to sell it, yet. If you watch Shark Tank, then you know the Sharks aren’t just looking to invest in great sounding ideas. They are looking for some proof points, like early sales and customer acquisition costs, to help them predict if people want the product.

Barb told him (paraphrased), You remind me of a lot of people we see here on Shark Tank that come from the corporate world. You are very smart. You know how to get the nuts and bolts of the operations of the business running really well. But, you did all of this work and forgot the most important thing: checking to see if it’s something people want.

Here are a few more thoughts:

One way for leaders to quell the rah-rah culture is to understand the odds. Most things fail.

Legend-status contestants on Naked & Afraid exemplify the attitude needed for success in a long odds game when they are trying to acquire food. They know the odds are low, which gets them through the disappointment of failure. But, they keep trying.

It’s also a good analogy for business because they only have limited calorie reserves and time so they are constantly calculating risk/reward and ROI on their food gathering efforts, trying things on small scales and spreading their bets.

I think some leaders think the key to success is simply getting everybody on board. And, maybe a lot of business success stories have been narrated in such a way to make people think that’s true.

But, it isn’t.

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