How to Find an Idea Whose Time Has Come

In response to my last post on “The Power of A Good Strategy”, I got a number of emails citing timing, versus strategy, as the top reason why Facebook succeeded. These emails also came with a link to a recent Bill Gross TED talk where he found timing to be the single most important factor in a startup’s success among 4 other criteria that he studied.

The problem I have with timing as a success factor is it very easily falls prey to survivor and hindsight bias. The bigger question is how does one quickly tell apart an idea whose time has come versus not?

The Power of a Good Strategy

When Mark Zuckerburg started Facebook in 2004, he wasn’t the first building a social networking platform. There were dozens of other social networking platforms before his – many with millions of dollars in funding and millions of users. Yet, he still managed to build the largest social networking platform on the planet.

How did Facebook manage to win against bigger and better funded competitors who had a huge head-start over them? The answer: Facebook won on strategy – not on an original founding vision or an inherent unfair advantage.

Vision Strategy Product Pyramid

The Innovation Challenge

Whether it’s getting the green light on a new venture, or securing an additional round of funding, entrepreneurs and innovators are constantly faced with the challenge of demonstrating progress to their stakeholders.

The Innovator's Bias

How to Avoid the Innovator’s Bias for the Solution

I’ve previously described the importance of uncovering problems worth solving early in your business modeling, but how do you avoid the innovator’s bias for the solution? The recommended path for filling out a Lean Canvas is starting with the problem/customer segment quadrant but if you already carry a picture of a hammer in your head, the danger is framing all problems as nails. Today’s post is about avoiding this trap.

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No Problems in Your Business Model is a Problem

A manager at Toyota is delivering a quarterly update to an executive. He’s enthusiastic because all the metrics are trending up and to the right. They shipped on time – sales, and customer satisfaction numbers are up too. The executive patiently listens until the manager is done and then asks: “So where are the problems?”

The manager explains that it was a great quarter and that there are no problems to report. The executive shakes his head and says: “No problems is problem”.

This is the famous Toyota “no problems is problem” story that is often retold by lean consultants to highlight one of the key tenets of running lean.

Business Model Canvas