Today's post is focused on the core value proposition of LeftFieldLab - New Venture Design. This practice was popularised by the likes of IDEO and others, so you can find some more reading here. It's still early days for these kinds of offerings in Africa, but I think many of us in the local innovation game have seen this movie and can relate: you go on an inspiring innovation journey and come up with some really disruptive new concepts - only to realise that you have been to a different planet than your colleagues back home and the new ideas die a slow "death by committee". This has many reasons as any real innovation radically challenges the status quo, key assumptions and established business playbooks - which might also mean that someones job is on the line. Also we have often seen that an innovation business case sometimes needs to compete for funding with very established offerings - not easy to get the "green light" for innovation in most cases under theses circumstances. The final problems is the that the risks associated with innovation are also too much too handle - even though sometimes the risk of not doing anything to change the status quo is the greatest risk of all.
This leads to a situation where we see that most innovation projects don't see the light of day and many great ideas get watered down as they move through the bureaucratic system. One way to counter this is to run innovation projects as under-the-radar "skunkworks" - with some senior aircover needed though. The other problem is that people don't fall in love with PowerPoint decks and as we know: the desk is a dangerous place and often the voice of the customer does not drive decision-making. Our solution is to take innovation outside of the corporate machine into a less risky "sandbox" experimentation environment. This means taking concepts a step further so they can demonstrate more impact and realise their potential by running them as real-life experiments in order to provide a proof of concept layer to a prototype. This model is also used by the likes of BCG Digital Ventures - see here for details of what they are working on and here for a great model of what happens locally.
Another good resource to start you off and which is more suited to our African Venture Design context is this site by John Collery from IDEO.org - see here.
There is also a nice online course offered by Ethan Imboden from FrogDesign - see here for details.
Please get in touch if you want to find out more and are keen to give this model of innovation a try.