I put this infographic together as a rough guide to getting an idea out of a head and into a boardroom. It also describes the process I go through with clients. I’ve used it myself, both as an entrepreneur and as an executive. I call it Innovation & Analytics.
Innovation & Analytics starts with the creativity of a new idea. It then uses analysis, and application of new technologies, to decide, refine, and communicate:
download this infographic:
Tons of great ideas never even get past the concept stage. I hope this very broad outline will help you organize your thoughts, so you can get your brilliant brainchild out of your head and into action.
Click the sections in the infographic to the right for more info ... and some examples.
frame your idea. out loud.
Ideas bounce around inside peoples’ heads, and they often stay right there. To implement an idea, start by talking it out. Have at least one other person in the room. Have a whiteboard, or at least pen & paper. The proverbial cocktail napkin. And it gets the ball rolling.
Keep it high-level. Look for things that should be quantified, but don't start quantifying yet. Just get the idea out. For example, cover:
- what the idea replaces, and how.
- what "suppliers" does the idea rely upon? This can be anything from stainless steel bolts to data from a social media API; the point is to identify external dependencies
- who are the ultimate customers? what are they paying for? how?
- what is the process for users?
Of course, this isn't a comprehensive list of questions. The real key is to indulge your curiosity. And get it all down in sketch format.
shapes and arrows.
I never hated word problems in 8th grade algebra. Why? Because I had a great math teacher, who insisted that we start every problem by drawing a picture. It really helped frame the problem: "What do we know? What do we want to find?"
Same thing here. Draw it. Refine the drawing. Then bounce it off 1 or 2 people, and refine it again.
Cover important issues in broad brushstrokes. Who pays? How much? How does that change the payer's status quo? How do you offer it to your market? Follow your curiosity, draw pictures, and verify/share your drawings.
And then ... . You can use these "shapes and arrows" as the skeleton for others you might need in the future. So, seriously. Stop.
Some examples of these kinds of drawings:
- a 5-slide collection of examples
(in French.)Disclosure: these are all examples from my own startup, Moveable Feast Mobile Media, when we were pursuing an opportunity with the French Postal Service.
Note that these are all very "high level" drawings. They're very general. That is the point.
(Opens in a new tab.)
- a business revenue model
- "what are we addressing?"
- expanding a service model
A forward-looking, mathematical reflection of the concept diagram. Highlights strategic choices, financials, … and opportunities!
Use the conceptual models you developed in the last step as a guide to building your model. Everywhere you can - on the visual picture(s) you drew - ask quantifying questions:
- how much/how many?
- how often?
- Anything that can put numbers to the picture. Then translate that to the analytical tool of your choice. (Most people choose Excel.)
* these models often expose what I call innovation2, where your innovative idea is complemented by others' (technology) ideas, compounding its value-in-use.
This short video "flyover" of a model I built for a well-funded media startup:
This browser-based interactive model for a startup idea:
The models don't need to be precise. They're like the model planes used in wind-tunnel testing: not intended to fly, or to carry cargo or passengers. But these models can identify how well everything works - and a lot of other important pre-launch information.
By the way, the more visual the models, the better. Add graphs that show critical relationships between decisions & outcomes!
tell a story.
There are plenty of great templates available for free online, to serve whatever purpose your "pitch" needs. The best of them bake in a "storytelling" progression.
And now you're armed with a whole library of pictures, quantitative scenarios, and projections. Use these - with a "storytelling template" - to create your deck.
Along the way, you've gained a real understanding of what your idea is and does. How it actually works.
Your quantitative models can give you a great understanding of where your market is, what situations to avoid, and can inform your decisions.
Your conceptual models can help you hone your own "5-second description".
The deck is where all this comes together.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions, or want my help on a project!