Business Design: an Experiment of Innovation

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance who is a psychologist. As I was listening to him describe one of his latest studies with students at a university, I began to hear him drop a lot of the same words that I often use to describe the work I do at Peer Insight: research, test, hypothesis, bias, insight. And it struck me that diagnosing a new scientific phenomenon is not unlike standing up a new business or designing a new innovation: to be successful as a scientist or as an innovator, you must start with a deliberate perspective (i.e. hypothesis) and prove or disprove it's viability with a series of tests (i.e. co-creation). 

Now, making comparisons between the design thinking process and the scientific method is nothing new, just consider the innovation tool Assumption Testing, but I wondered if we could learn something more from our psychologist counterparts. Are the newest breed of innovators part designer/part scientist?  

The relative success or failure of an innovative business or concept is seemingly unpredictable— one part luck, one part strategy, one part vision; innovation, like the cure to many diseases, is still un-cracked. But as any good scientists might, we have the opportunity to take a very good guess at what it might be and then stand it up long enough to poke holes in it.  

At Peer Insight, we believe that an alpha test via in-market experimentation, is the way to quickly and inexpensively test your "cure."  

We start by identifying our biases — what is it that we know, what is it we think we know and what is it we need to know— about the potential new venture. Then we find a scrappy yet believable way to deliver it to real customers, for a limited amount of time. Often this involves a short-term partnership with other small firms to provide parts of the experience you can't (or won't) deliver on your own. As such, an alpha test always provides you with a small-scale platform to test your value proposition and your business model. 

Have you embraced your inner mad scientist? Leave me a comment or message me: @jess_dugan.

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Jessica Dugan

Hi, I'm Jessica. And the first thing you need to know about me is that I'm nosey. If there is something happening around me, I need to know what it is and why it's going on. It is this curiosity to know see, discover and be involved everything that lead me to my career in design research and design strategy. As a design consultant I get the opportunity to dive in and explore new cultures, new people and new problems and then create compelling services that improve the quality of life for us all. When I'm not sticking it into other people's business, you can probably find my nose in a good sci-fi or historical fiction book or stumbling around a museum or other historical landmark. I quite enjoy burritos, whether homemade, store-made, restaurant or delivery and on any given weekend it's safe to assume I'll be downing a delightful Mexican treat while chugging a home-brewed beer made by my husband.