I consider all of you reading this as part of my team, even if I haven’t “officially” met you. For that, I am grateful. Being in such amazing company for the past 10 years has pushed me to grow in every way; constantly experimenting on myself as a prototype. So I wanted to share with you that I have transitioned out of Peer Insight; this Natalie-prototype is moving on to the next test. My next professional adventure is TBD, for now pausing and reflecting.
I felt comfortable leaving because of the tremendous growth, team and potential of Peer Insight. I wanted to build a firm where I would one day feel like I wouldn’t be able to get a job there – that time has come. By the way – welcome to the Peer Insight team, Brit & Jack!
My team knows I love a good Top 10 list, so from my 10 years, here’s what I’ve come to believe are the top 10 levers of innovation and business building. Lever meaning it’s not neutral; these factors can either propel you forward or backwards quickly.
- Diversify Expertise: For decades, industry expertise has been worshipped, and, for many problems and roles, it’s very important. But for creating something new, expertise should always be combined with a variety of viewpoints. New ventures require an expertise in how to make the unknown → known.
- Test & Iterate: In today’s world, master this skillset and you win. Simple advice, but the hardest on this list to execute because every incentive, process & tool in your BigCo runs counter to this mindset & behavior.
- Protect Small Teams: ‘Innovation theater’ includes inviting everyone to see the venture being made. It’s distracting, counter-productive and often harmful to have too many folks involved. Focus and intentionality is key, as is true for every part of your business.
- Build Polymath Teams: Diversity matters; in background, perspective, personality type, skillsets, passions. A homogenous team sees the new venture through the same lens, which means you’ll miss catching a key customer insight, or a key to unlocking the business model, or pulling on a data thread that shows the next pivot.
- Connect to Strategy: In a BigCo, if your new venture isn’t tied to what your organization wants to be in the next 3 years, it won’t see the light of day. This assumes you have a good strategy – one that enables attention and money to be directed to just a few problems the BigCo is attempting to solve.
- Stay Low-Fi: Got a great concept? Everyone is probably asking to “see it.” Resist the urge to spend $$ & time on development, to build it. Instead, spend those precious resources on running a great in-market experiment with a no/low-code prototype.
- Ask Why: Ask this always; your data should always be telling you the what and the why. Anyone can know the what, you’ll outperform your competition (& yourselves) with the why.
- Define Failure: Not running a test, not asking the right question, not listening, not collecting the data – these are failures. Your idea is not a unit of measure, upon which to gauge success or failure. Failure is moving into the unknown without executing a plan to test your hypothesis (idea); failure is not de-risking, it’s pretending you can predict the future.
- Obsess Over Your Customers: Repeatedly ensure that you are gathering and listening to data from your customer. Over and over. “What problem am I solving?” and “why does someone want this?” is how you should start every day as a business builder.
- Stay Curious: Learn about other problem-solvers in the world, across every sector. Analogies are great little cheat sheets to thinking differently.
In gratitude for all you’ve taught me,