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Rapid Prototyping: 6 Ideas in 3 Hours with 10 People from a Global FMCG

Rapid Prototyping: 6 Ideas in 3 Hours with 10 People from a Global FMCG
What's new: K-Startup Grand Challenge 2020 for Australian/New Zealand Startups! More information here.

We hear it all the time from corporate innovation teams.

“We’ve run design sprints” and “we sourced hundreds of ideas using an idea challenge” but they usually haven’t done anything with the ideas beyond that because they lack a mechanism or roadmap to take ideas beyond ideas. We often hear that “it takes us months to run an experiment”.

Such narrative is not only holding back product development but it’s a recipe for disaster insofar as internal culture and knowledge management goes because it will only serve to fuel pessimism amongst the organisation’s most innovative and entrepreneurial thinkers who will seek greener pastures elsewhere.

We’re told it’s because there’s no funding or time to take ideas further but both of these reasons are poor excuses at best - especially when you consider how many millions of dollars and months of effort go into projects that ultimately tank because senior executives jumped to conclusions about what customers wanted,

However, the biggest and most legitimate barrier to taking next steps with ideas is:

(a) a preconception that early stage innovation is risky and costs a lot of money (the irony is that the cost of not running experiments means we often over-invest developing products based on untested assumptions); and

(b) a lack of awareness and knowledge of the tools available to accelerate prototyping and early stage innovation.

Day Spent On Rapid Prototyping with A Global FMCG

We recently facilitated a hack day for a global FMCG client, comprised of 10 cross functional employees, all of whom had the desire to innovate but lacked the methods and tools required to do so.

They had run some internal design sprints and had a handful of ideas to explore but weren’t sure how to go about taking them any further. By the end of the day they had not only built six prototypes but they also got out of the building and put the prototypes into the hands of target customers for relevant feedback from day one.

What the day looked liked

9am - 10:30am: A primer on the lean startup methodology

Teams were introduced to the fundamental aspects of the lean startup, captured as follows:

  • A startup is any temporary institution looking to find product market fit for a new idea that has lots of untested assumptions - that often includes new product initiatives within large companies
  • 95% of startups fail because of market failure - building what nobody wants to buy
  • Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face
  • Today, business plans based on hocus pocus assumptions about future events don’t stack up because technology and customer habits are changing far too quickly
  • The 5% of startups that succeed do so because they relentlessly test their assumptions before overcommitting
  • Initial ideas should be captured in a lean canvas - along with key problem, solution and customer segments
  • Define key ‘leap of faith’ assumptions underpinning an idea
  • Define experiments and develop prototypes to effectively test these assumptions
  • Define key metrics to determine whether a test was successful or not - capture this in a validation board
  • Put the prototype in your target customer’s hands, measure interactions and update validation board
  • Capture learnings and update lean canvas
  • Repeat as many times as necessary to find product market fit before running out of time or money

The Ideas

  1. AR app to improve in venue engagement
  2. AR venue finder mobile app
  3. AR mobile app for in liquor store engagement
  4. Happy hour bar finder app
  5. Chatbot to engage sales reps
  6. Online education for sales reps and liquor store staff

10:30am - 1:30pm: Turning Ideas into Prototypes

We used Plattar, an AR content management system (think of it as Wordpress for AR) to build two AR apps.

Prorotype #1: AR mobile app to improve in venue engagement

Watch Video

Prototype #2: AR mobile app to improve in store engagement

Watch Video

Prototype #3: AR mobile app to find your nearest pub

Using free off the shelf tools like mobile UI kits, Canva and InVision we were able to mock up a “Wizard of Oz” augmented reality bar finder app in less than 30 minutes with a view down Melbourne’s Flinders Lane.

Click here to try out the app for yourself! 

Prototype #4: Chatbot to engage sales reps in the field

Using Chatfuel, the team were able to mock up a quick Facebook integrated chat assistant in under 30 minutes.

Prototype #5: Pub Finder Mobile App

We put together a functional mobile app for a ‘Happy Hour’ pub finder app in under an hour using Canva, mobile UI kits and InVision.

Prototype #6: Online Education Test

One of the ideas tested was whether online education would fly for bringing liquor store managers up to speed on the latest beverages. Before going out and building a full blown virtual reality system, the team set up a simple email test to gauge whether any of podcasts, online video or virtual reality would resonate with the target audience by way of tracking clicks to the different mediums.

The initial analytics speak for themselves (granted this is quite the small sample size).

Total Cost

Total cost of building prototypes: $0

Technical skill needed to build prototypes: None

2pm - 4pm: Get out of the building

The AR apps were put into the hands of customers, both at bars and at liquor stores, to get immediate feedback and gauge reactions. This is way more value that inside the building hypothesising from hippos (that’s highest paid person) who in most cases have never built something completely new and potentially disruptive from scratch and taken it to market.

Some of the key metrics we were looking to test across many of these ideas are captured below.

In the case of the AR in-bar app:

  1. Acquisition: would target customers try the experience?
  2. Activation: would they use it through to desired outcome?
  3. Retention: would they come back to play again?
  4. Referral: would they tell their friends about the experience?

Watch Video

4pm-5pm: Debrief and Lessons Learned

Some of the key takeaways that participants highlighted come the end of the day were as follows:

  • early stage innovation doesn't need to cost a lot of money or time
  • jumping into conclusions can cost us significantly more time, money and employee moral
  • our assumptions about what customers want can more often than not be wrong
  • we should model real world customer behaviour and run experiments to find out the truth
  • customers will often give us insights that never even crossed our mind, simply by getting out of the building and showing them what we're thinking

By providing participants that were completely new to the art of early stage innovation with the right mindset, some simple methods and tools to get the job done, they were able to not only turn their ideas into what were in most cases functional prototypes, but also and perhaps more importantly, put them into the hands of target customers to get critical feedback within hours.

As the old adage goes, “the startups that learn the fastest win” and this is no less true at large global organisations.

Tools Used

  1. Lean Canvas
  2. Validation Board (see below)
  1. Plattar
  2. Mailchimp
  3. Canva
  4. InVision
  5. Chatfuel
  6. Mobile UI kits

Find out more about moving quickly at your organisation at

Workflow Podcast

The WorkFlow podcast is hosted by Steve Glaveski with a mission to help you unlock your potential to do more great work in far less time, whether you're working as part of a team or flying solo, and to set you up for a richer life.

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To help you avoid stepping into these all too common pitfalls, we’ve reflected on our five years as an organization working on corporate innovation programs across the globe, and have prepared 100 DOs and DON’Ts.

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Steve Glaveski

Steve Glaveski is the co-founder of Collective Campus, author of Time Rich, Employee to Entrepreneur and host of the Future Squared podcast. He’s a chronic autodidact, and he’s into everything from 80s metal and high-intensity workouts to attempting to surf and do standup comedy.

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