Can we eliminate or minimize the risk when turning a business idea into reality?
The continuous evolution of technology raises exponentially the amount of digital solutions that can be used to solve any problem in the world today. Each of these digital solutions can be considered as an idea, being this idea the source of inspiration in a large number of businesses. On the one hand, new startups appear every day with the aim of converting some of their ideas into business opportunities. On the other hand, companies already established in the market are also developing ideas with which they can be strengthened or positioned more competitively.
However, an idea is something too intangible. Depending on whether it has been elaborated and implemented correctly, the result can be a success or a failure. The risk is so high that the feeling is of playing the lottery. A lottery for which, if we put ourselves in the shoes of a company, each ticket (PoC) can cost millions.
Is there any way to minimize the risk and know if our ticket is a winner before buying it? Yes. We can travel to the future to see the result. And the time machine that we will use is called SPRINT.
SPRINT is a methodology created by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz under Google Ventures that tries to solve problems and test new ideas in just five days. For this, it is necessary the perfect team, the perfect workplace and to follow a strict plan of 5 days in which we will get specific objectives that will take us to a conclusion at the end of the week.
The main idea of the SPRINT methodology is gathering all the requirements to choose a challenge with an important risk (and reward) to elaborate a set of ideas from which a testable prototype will emerge that will be provided to the users in the last day. With the feedback provided by these users, we will have enough information to know if the idea has been successful or to be able to polish details in a fast and accurate way.
SPRINT is based on the idea that there is nobody who has all the information to carry out the project. Instead, the information is distributed among different people with different roles in the company. The team must gather all these people to be able to develop a prototype as accurate as possible.
The recommendation that SPRINT makes is to choose a total of 7 people with great diversity within the company. The team would be formed by:
- Financial Expert: Knows where the money comes from and goes to.
- Marketing expert: Knows how to prepare the messages of the company.
- Expert in clients: Represents the needs of customers.
- Expert in technology: Understands what the company is capable of delivering.
- Expert in design: Responsible for developing solutions based on the aesthetics of the company.
- Decisor: Normally it will be the project manager. The decisor is the key piece in the sprint since they will be the one that makes the final decisions in each of the important moments. There may be more than one.
- Facilitator: It's the person who will help the concentration and the focus of the problem not be lost. They will be responsible for keeping the blackboard (the brain) as clean and understandable as possible.
Once we have seen the work team, we will see how day-to-day develops.
Monday consists of the day in which you start at the end to be able to set a long-term goal. Subsequently, a map of the challenge will be prepared and experts will be asked to share their information and knowledge. Finally, the objective of the sprint will be chosen: a decision that must be ambitious but possible to be carried out in a week.
The first step on Monday is to imagine that we are in the future and imagine that we have a perfect solution. How is this solution? What problems does it solve? These questions will allow us to establish a long-term goal.
Next step is to convert all the problems of the sprint into opportunities, for example, before the problem "It will not engage people" would become the question "Will this hook people?". In this way, the mind thinks about solving challenges and not trying to avoid an obstacle.
In the afternoon, we have to draw a map of the challenge, that is, a simple diagram that represents complexity. This diagram will contain the actors of each action and the process they must follow to reach the end.
Finally, a long-term objective will be chosen. This objective will be a piece of the map that is risky enough to obtain a sufficiently satisfactory reward throughout the SPRINT.
Once we have a goal, Tuesday is the day to provide solutions. In the morning, the whole team will look for ideas and inspiration. In the afternoon, each member of the team will make a sketch of their solution to the problem presented.
Throughout the morning, the team will look for inspiration in external applications or business applications. Any element is good for inspiration. This inspiration can come in the form of a solution or in a way that components should be working. All those ideas will be written down and can be seen by the whole team later on.
In the afternoon, each member of the team will individually use these ideas to generate possible solutions always taking into account the objective and the questions generated the previous day. These possible solutions will consist of a sketch that will be completely anonymous.
Once a broad set of solutions has been developed, Wednesday is the day to decide the best one. In the morning different activities will be carried out to choose the best ideas. In the afternoon, a storyboard will be made: a diagram in which what should be prototyped is represented step by step.
Each member of the team will have stickers with which they can rate ideas or concepts that they find interesting and attractive to include in a final solution. In addition, the prototype which is closest to the long-term goal, will also be voted with a bigger sticker.
In the afternoon, a sketch will be made based on the number of stickers in each idea among all team members. In addition, a storyboard will be elaborated that gives more information about how the user interface has to be or how the prototype that we create must react to different cases that we have not taken into account. This storyboard will be the basis for the prototype.
After drawing up the diagram on which the prototype will be based, Thursday will be the day to prototype it. Throughout the day, a solution will be prototyped as realistic as possible so that the users who are going to test it do not notice that it is totally fake.
Throughout the day, the team will focus on prototyping and developing an unreal product that serves to respond to the objective and questions on Monday as well as test the ideas and concepts that were developed on Tuesday and selected on Wednesday. The prototype will be totally fictitious but as realistic as possible so that the user has the feeling that it is a real product. It is especially important to identify the entry points to our application (social networks, chats, newspapers) so that the flow seems even more real and optimizes the user's first impression.
Once we have the elaborated prototype, the day to put it to the test comes. For this, it will be necessary to interview clients and learn from their reactions. These tests are the key to the whole week as they will tell us how far we have gone and what we should do next.
On the one hand, the interviewer and the interviewee will be in a room where there is a camera. On the other hand, the rest of the team will be in a separate room analyzing the gestures and reactions of each of the users. In this way, the user does not feel intimidated by having so many people watching them and will feel more open with the interviewer, who has to make sure that they feel as comfortable as possible.
The interviews will be conducted throughout the day, will be 1 hour long and there will be a break of 30 minutes. The number of interviewees will be 5 since it is the number in which more information is provided with the minimum cost. In these interviews, the interviewer has to get the interviewee to think aloud and respond indirectly to all the questions generated on Monday.
All the information generated by the interviews will finally be analyzed by all the members of the group and will be the basis for making the decision on how to continue in the project.
At the end of the sprint of only five days, we will obtain not only a prototyped solution to a business opportunity or idea, but we will have the absolute certainty of whether we are on the right track or not thanks to the information provided by end users. All this without having to develop a single line of code and without expending as much as we would with a PoC.
From here, we will be in an excellent position to take the next step when it comes to turning our idea into reality. This step could be to correct a threat that has been identified, to refine an opportunity that had not been seen before or to continue with other business ideas that can add value to our product. In short, this step is one more step towards success.