Imagine you are planning a trip from point A to point B to get there as quickly as possible in your car where you must arrive at a specific time for a meeting. You plan the fastest route, reduce the weight you are carrying, minimize the rest stops you take and maximize your fuel consumption as much as possible. The day of your trip, you walk out and find that your car has a flat tire only to face road delays and to run out of gas. Then your phone battery dies, leaving you clueless as how to get where you’re going. What do you do at this point?
A. Light the car on fire and head for the nearest happy hour.
B. Kick the car tire, curse and call a cab to take you home.
C. Regroup, recharge that phone, fix that tire and keep going. Better late, then never!
Now imagine being charged with accelerating business ideas from concept to product release. Do you have a viable business before you spend money and cycles developing it? Is your product something customers need and are willing to pay for? You want to give customer your product quickly with minimal features to see if it meets their needs, can it be better and THEN develop the final product. This is Lean Startup thinking, Agile product development and smart business practice! These are operating principles we follow in Itron Idea Labs to evaluate and develop new business models for Itron.
Some common terms used in Itron Idea Labs are Lean Startup, Agile development, Minimum Viable Product and entrepreneurial spirit. What do these principles mean and how does Itron Idea Labs utilize them to the benefit of Itron?
- The objective is to implement business-driven hypotheses, shorten the product development lifecycle, iterate the product and validate learnings.
- Agile development is an alternative to traditional waterfall development where product development demands rigorous processes, phases and dependencies on documentation requirements, analysis and design. Agile development relies on the ability to rapidly iterate a project’s concept, design an outcome based on customer requirements. This is often done by building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) which produces a product with the minimal feature set that address the problem, and enables faster assessment and validation from the customer. Using an MVP, Idea Labs can streamline prototyping and gather customer insight for further development and refinement.
- Entrepreneurial spirit is about assuming a high degree of risk for the reward of new business model discovery. With that risk comes a high failure rate.
There will always be unseen obstacles to disrupt your best plan or idea as in the trip example above. You can’t plan for everything or anticipate what will impede your progress. You will falter. But, if you change your approach, you may find that you succeed with a new business, new product and STILL make that happy hour to celebrate!
Stay up-to-date on Itron Idea Labs by following the Itron Idea Labs showcase page on LinkedIn!