By Gilles de Jong, 4-5 minute read
Anthony called me and asked: “How is your Slovakian?” I had a faint idea where this conversation was heading and answered: “A little rusty…”. Within a week, I was in a plane to Vienna with my colleague Wouter for our transfer to Bratislava. It was a new adventure that I was willing to take with both hands. Other colleagues had done projects abroad, but this was my first.
I’m writing this in Athens where I am on my second foreign adventure (with a difference in temperature of 40 degrees to my previous project…) and the biggest thing I learned regarding our methodology and other cultures is that it is not about the tools, not about the visuals, not about the experiment design, it’s about people. Understanding that it is not about filling in canvasses and using innovation ‘toolkits’ mindlessly but about fostering entrepreneurship in people, making work fun and getting results fast with minimal risk.
Although the methodology has a sequential character you ‘build-measure-learn’ yourself through a project; you never know exactly what is going to happen during experiments and every experiment triggers a new one. You are constantly looking for the riskiest assumption so you can test it, to build your product stronger and stronger.
“You run, you turn, you pass, you tackle,
as long as you reach your goal.”
Working with the methodology and a team is like a rugby team trying to reach the goal line of the opposition. You run, you turn, you pass, you tackle, as long as you reach your goal. Our methodology is a playbook with different tactical and operational moves that all focus on one thing; reaching the goal line. Which one to use, depends on the situation.
In Slovakia our goals were roughly the same as in Greece; Find and validate a new business model and educate the team you work with in the new way of working. However, in Slovakia we used weekly workshops to transfer the knowledge regarding the methodology because we noticed that the team wanted to have the theory behind the methodology to be able to learn it. In Greece the team wanted more action when we explained too much, so we focused on results from the beginning and talked to customers on the second day. Regarding the product; internet usage in Slovakia was relatively low, so online conversions were holding back. We changed strategy and focused on offline conversions more. In Greece we had 40 online leads after three weeks on a proposition and we used offline interviews to find out why people liked the proposition so much. Same goal, different ways to get there.
The agile approach that we use with ‘Entrepreneurial Innovation’ helps to gather evidence for what solution we can offer the customer. If the customer does not like your product, you change it the next day. Also, it helps to find the best way to work with teams. So overall; the choices you constantly make in order to keep adjusting and staying agile are based on insights that you get from customers or team members. So, does our methodology work in other cultures? Yes, it does. As long as you keep in mind that it is not about the tools you use or steps you take, but about adjusting to the people that you work with or try to sell your products to. This is the (international) entrepreneurial mindset that drives innovation.