This week's show is a follow-up to the Execution show where I did a one minute intro to the Innovation Lean Canvas. If you haven't listened to that episode, make sure to click here. The innovation lean canvas is a structure that we teach in all of our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. It is an innovation plan that offers an overview of your best idea all in one place.
The Innovation Lean Canvas
The lean canvas replaces a typically created business plan. We print this out on a huge poster-sized paper and tack it to the wall in our workshops. It allows you to look at your best idea and the critical areas around it, all in one glance. Updated as you acquire more learnings, you'll be able to see these ideas and critical areas on the paper. I would encourage you to customize your lean canvas to your own organization's needs. Don't be afraid to try something different that fits you.
Let's walk through my lean canvas so we can get a feel for it. Starting, we talk about the problem statement, and what makes this idea different. We discuss who the customers are and what the key metrics are. The steps and activities that are needed, as well as the resources needed, are discussed. With this framework, you get a perfect snapshot view of the problem, the solution, and how it all works. It helps you pinpoint areas that need work.
Breaking Down the Lean Canvas
The problem statement: you may have different variations of this, and you want to put them all on your lean canvas. Next, you want to discuss the solution. This statement is your idea that was ranked the highest, and you and your team feel it is ready to go forward. Now, you want to define who the customers are and discuss their personas. Everything must be crystal clear, and if not, you may need to investigate and validate the customer segment.
Next is the unique value proposition. Why is the customer going to find value in this? Why is it going to be unique compared to what is already out there? It would be best if you define why your idea is better and why the customers will want it. The problem, the solution, and the customer are tightly linked and foundational to execution. You have to be able to answer these areas.
At this point, you need to define some key metrics. What are the criteria for success? What constitutes you're making progress? An example of this would be asking five questions to twenty-five customers and bringing those answers back. The questions get tied to the key activities. The activities would be preparing the survey of questions for the customers to answer.
I challenge you to spend some time thinking about improving your idea to create a sustainable advantage. Once you launch, you will have many copycats if you don't have a barrier to entry. The fast rise of copycats is due to low-cost manufacturing. It would be best if you found a way to have an unfair advantage that is defensive.
Patents are costly, averaging around $30,000-$35,000, including the legal work and working with the patent office. There are other ways for you to create barriers to entry, such as trade secrets. You need to find out what resources you need. Find resources in technologies, expertise, access to a sales channel, etc. You will have to pitch your idea, so you need to be crystal clear on what resources you will need to make it happen.
Next, focus on funding requirements and costs. When most people pitch ideas, they put the funding cost upfront. On lean canvas, we talk about the problem, solution, and how you will accomplish it before talking about the funding. Once you have evaluated these other areas, then you can talk about the funding.
Lastly, discuss the revenue stream. The revenue stream is more about the economic value sources rather than just looking at a spreadsheet.
We walked through all of the lean canvas elements such as problem, solution, customers, unique value proposition, key metrics, key activities, thinking through unfair advantage, resource partners, funding requirements/costs, and revenue streams. This innovation lean canvas is one that I use and teach in all of my workshops. Once a team fills it out, we have them pitch from their lean canvas. I like this approach because it makes sure they cover all of the key areas for successful innovation.
The lean canvas gives you a structure to make sure you don't miss any vital areas. I have found this to be hugely valuable and adaptable. Don't be afraid to adapt it to you and your organization's needs. We use the lean canvas in all of our ideation workshops and teach it to our customers. When you leave our workshops, you go with a filled-in lean canvas of your best idea, ready to be pitched to your management team.
Check out the Disruptive Ideation Workshop here to learn the lean canvas for you and your team.
If you are interested in learning more about the lean canvas or want information from previous shows, check out all the free downloadable material I put together here.
To know more about the innovation lean canvas, listen to this week's show: Innovation Lean Canvas – A One Page Innovation Plan.