Challenges and Pilots

Innovating is messy. The process of taking a challenge all the way through to piloting a solution involves a lot of iterating, scrapping and frustration. A challenge is a statement of intent. It’s the purpose behind which you initiate a project. A challenge could be something like Increase profits while reducing sales or reverse the blemished image of a religion in media. In a sense, it is rather vague – and that’s okay. Starting out, you don’t know how you will achieve an outcome, but you do know why. A pilot is when you ultimately launch the solution into the market. With the starting point (a challenge) and an end point (pilot) in mind, how do you navigate in between?

That’s why you need a framework. You need a guiding strategy for how you intend to navigate your way from a challenge to a pilot. Despite popular belief that you shouldn’t structure innovating, adopting a framework is a very smart thing to do. Allow me to introduce my favorite framework, The Double Diamond, to illustrate my point.

The Double Diamond Framework

The Double Diamond framework proposes four distinct phases: Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver. One of the first reasons for adopting a framework, is that it promotes specific types of thinking according to which phase you’re at. For example, going crazy with sticky notes and blurting out “no idea is a bad idea” will work handsomely during the develop stage. However, adopting a divergent mindset during the Define phase will hinder you from moving forward with your project – and that’s never a good thing. Getting stuck in idea generation mode forever will never get you to a point where you are ready to pilot.

So where is the messiness then?

The messiness lies within each phase. For example, early on in the Discover phase, you dive in into deep research. You’re looking for any and all pieces of information surrounding your challenge. You don’t know where insight will come from, and so you have to test multiple ways of obtaining information to see what stands out. You can try out things like customer interviews, experience mapping, Lotus Blossom-ing, shadowing etc. Those are all tools and techniques that aid in opening up to information. That sounds pretty messy to me. However, that messiness resides within a structured framework, and that’s the only way you can navigate your way from challenge to pilot.

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