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The 7 Habits of
Breakthrough Innovators
Amy Jo Kim, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, Shufflebrain
#Getting2Alpha
What
we’ll
cover
Introduction
What
we’ll
cover
Introduction
7 Habits of Breakthrough Innovators
What
we’ll
cover
Introduction
7 Habits of Breakthrough Innovators
3 Smart Shortcuts to get you started
Introduction
A hunch is creativity trying
to tell you something.
Frank Capra
Filmmaker
You’ve got a
great product idea
How do you
know if it’s
the right one?
Amy Jo Kim, Ph.D.
Co-Founder & Creative Director
Shufflebrain Partners
shufflebrain.com
Creator & Head Coach
Getting to Alpha
getting2alpha.com
We partner with great companies to make
smart games for a connected world
What can we
learn from
breakthrough
innovations?
Can we learn to
validate our
product ideas
better,
smarter,
faster?
7 Habits
of Breakthrough
Innovators
You can use an eraser on
the drafting table – or a
sledgehammer on the
construction site
Frank Lloyd Wright
Architect
Habit 1
Think like
a scientist
Run small,
high-learning
MVP experiments
To increase your chances of
success, minimize time
through the
Build-Measure-Learn cycle.
Eric Ries
Author, The Lean Startup
Ask the hard,
important
questions
upfront
Ideas
Design
&
Build
Product
Measure
Data
Learn
What
keeps people
engaged in a
virtual
dollhouse
simulation?
What social
systems are
necessary to
build trust in
an online
marketplace?
Can non-musicians
play plastic
instruments
together and
feel like a band
making music?
Will fashion-loving,
young women pay
to play a
dress-up game
with real
designer clothes?
Will people
subscribe to a
digital service
that delivers
daily happiness
exercises?
Habit 2
Laser-focus on
Early Adopters
Find & delight
your early
adopters FIRST
Early adopters will put up
with cost & ridicule for
innovations that meet
real needs.
Erika Hall
Author, Just Enough Research
Crossing the
Chasm
Geoffrey Moore, 1992
Innovation
Diffusion
Theory
Everett Rogers, 1961
Gather ideas &
feedback for
key systems
Cultivate
relationships with
content creators
Leverage
relationships with
Super Fans
Habit 3
Learn about
customers’
needs & habits
Piggyback on
existing habits
“The chains of habit are
too weak to be felt until
they are too strong
to be broken.”
Samuel Johnson
Author
Conduct field
interviews with
Early Adopters
Use
speed interviews
to surface
patterns &
insights
Habit 4
Create a culture of
iterative testing
Test early,
test often
There is nothing quite so
useless as doing with great
efficiency something that
should not be done at all
Peter Drucker
Author
Set up a weekly
interview /
playtest rhythm
Expand testing
audience as
product matures
Habit 5
Cultivate a
customer feedback
community
Listen in as
customers talk
with each other
To listen fully means to
pay close attention to
what is being said
beneath the words.
Steven Covey
Author
Create a private
group for
Early Adopters
Offer new
channels/groups
for later customers
Ideas
Design
&
Build
Product
Measure
Data
Learn Habit 6
Test & refine the
Core Loop early
What is —
and isn’t —
a Core Loop?
In a loop, you’re learning a
skill and updating your
mental model. That’s what
leads to player delight.
Dan Cook
Lead Game Designer, Spry Fox
Fake
landing page?
Fake
landing page?
X
Operant
Conditioning
AKA
Skinner Box?
Operant
Conditioning
AKA
Skinner Box?
X
Skill-building =
Making customers
more awesome
Skill-building
habit loop
Engaging
activity
+
internal urge
fuel the loop
Feedback
supports
learning &
mastery
Investment
and triggers
pull people
back
urge for a
fun social
activity
Play a Song
Together
Get Score,
Accolades, $$
Develop skill,
play harder
songs
Core Loop
urge for a
quick social
break
Read &
Respond to
Updates
Check
Notifications
& Stats
Read &
Respond to
DMs
Core Loop
Engaging
activities fuel
the loop
Feedback &
progress
light the way
Triggers &
investment
pull customer
back
Habit 7
Create a path
to Mastery
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ideas
Design
&
Build
Product
Measure
Data
Learn
“Every artist was
first an amateur.”
Engage
customers with
progressive
skill-building
Empower
enthusiasts with
tools, access &
privileges
Test
wireframes /
mockups / ideas
with
Early Adopters
Build aspirational
progression
systems
Surface &
empower
high-skill customers
Engage
enthusiasts with
in-world
powers
1. Think like a scientist
2. Laser-focus on Early Adopters
3. Learn about customers’ needs & habits
4. Create a culture of iterative testing
5. Cultivate a customer feedback community
6. Test & refine the Core Loop early
7. Co-create a path to Mastery
7 Habits of
Breakthrough
Innovators
3 Smart Shortcuts
that turbo-charge
your path to
product/market fit
You’ve got to jump off cliffs
all the time and build your
wings on the way down.
Ray Bradbury
Author
Shortcut 1
The MVP Canvas
Clarify your product strategy
Identify strengths, values & success metrics
Prioritize your highest-risk assumptions
Shortcut 2
Speed Interviews
Interview 10-15
Early Adopters
(5-10 min per interview)
Ask just a few
revealing
questions
Daily Habits
Beliefs & Ideas
Unmet Needs
Find enthusiastic
early
(customers + insights)
Shortcut 3
Habit Stories
Turn customer
insights into
design-ready
job stories
When _________
I want to ______________
so I can _____________
trigger
activity + goal
outcome
Habit Story =
Existing Habit
+
Unmet Need
Piggyback your
Core Loop
on an
existing habit
MVP Canvas BEFORE
Young women
(18-30) who play
mobile fashion
games
Aspirational
dress-up in
designer fashion
PLUS celebrity
stylist advice
MVP Canvas BEFORE
Young women
(18-30) who play
mobile fashion
games
Aspirational
dress-up in
designer fashion
PLUS celebrity
stylist advice
F2P co-op game
with real-world
fashion content
and hot trends
Vogue alternative
– stay up-to-date
on fashion by
playing – not just
looking
MVP Canvas BEFORE
Young women
(18-30) who play
mobile fashion
games
Aspirational
dress-up in
designer fashion
PLUS celebrity
stylist advice
F2P co-op game
with real-world
fashion content
and hot trends
Vogue alternative –
stay up-to-date on
fashion by playing
– not just looking
F2P game experience
Existing, addressable
audience for fashion
games
Like/Dislike metrics
via interviews with
hardcore fashion
gamers
MVP Canvas BEFORE
Young women
(18-30) who play
mobile fashion
games
Aspirational
dress-up in
designer fashion
PLUS celebrity
stylist advice
F2P co-op game
with real-world
fashion content
and hot trends
Vogue alternative –
stay up-to-date on
fashion by playing
– not just looking
F2P game experience
Existing, addressable
audience for fashion
games
Like/Dislike metrics
via interviews with
hardcore fashion
gamers
Young women
want a mobile
game based on
real-world
fashion
PLUS access to a
celebrity stylist
Speed
Interviews:
How we did it
•  15 young women 18-40 who play
mobile fashion games
•  Recruited from existing player
base & Craigslist ads
WHO
Speed
Interviews:
How we did it
•  15 young women 18-40 who play
mobile fashion games
•  Recruited from existing player
base & Craigslist ads
WHO
WHAT
•  Spend 5-10 minutes answering
3-5 questions
•  The best interview subjects
became paid testers
Speed
Interviews:
How we did it
•  15 young women 18-40 who play
mobile fashion games
•  Recruited from existing player
base & Craigslist ads
WHO
WHAT
WHEN
&
WHERE
•  Spend 5-10 minutes answering
3-5 questions
•  The best interview subjects
became paid testers
•  Over a period of 2 weeks
•  Via telephone or Skype
Research
Results:
3 Key Patterns
Fashion Browsers
Want to immerse themselves in a
beautiful aspirational world that keeps
them up-to-date on fashion trends.
Co-Creators
Want to “do fashion” with a buddy –
a friend or relative they can dress with,
shop with, and borrow from.
Armchair Stylists
Love telling other people how to dress –
they want to role-play a celebrity stylist,
and get credit for their fashion sense.
Fashion
Browser
“When I’m tired after a long day, I want to
flop on the couch and get the escapist,
immersive experience of flipping
through Vogue – but in a game.”
Fashion
Browser
Habit Story
When I
log into the game
I want to
see gorgeous, creative outfits – made
from the latest designer fashions
So I can
stay on top of fashion trends in a fun
and relaxing way
Co-Creator
“Patti told me to put these shoes and belt
together with this outfit – I would never
think of that, but it TOTALLY works.
I need her advice all the time.”
Co-Creator
Habit Story
When I
need to dress up for an important event
I want to
raid my friend’s closet and get her
feedback on my outfit online
So I can
have her accessorize my look and help
me feel confident – just like in real-life :-)
Armchair
Stylist
“I LOVE the idea of a game that lets me
rate my friends’ outfits and tell them how
to dress better – like I do before a party :-)”
Armchair
Stylist
Habit Story
When I
give fashion feedback to others
I want to
Know if my feedback had an effect
So I can
Feel happier, knowing that I’m helping
others be more fashionable
MVP Canvas AFTER
Young women
(18-30) who play
mobile fashion
games
F2P co-op game
with real-world
fashion content
and hot trends
Vogue alternative –
stay up-to-date on
fashion by playing
– not just looking
F2P game experience
Existing, addressable
audience for fashion
games
Like/Dislike metrics
via interviews with
hardcore fashion
gamers
Young women
want a mobile
game based on
real-world fashion
PLUS access to a
celebrity stylist
Skews older –
women 18-45 like
the game and
older women
spend more $
Aspirational
dress-up in
designer fashions
PLUS advice from
aspiring player-
stylists
MVP Canvas AFTER
Young women
(18-30) who play
mobile fashion
games
F2P co-op game
with real-world
fashion content
and hot trends
Vogue alternative
– stay up-to-date
on fashion by
playing – not just
looking
F2P game exp.
Addressable
audience for
fashion games
Young women
want a mobile
game based on
real-world fashion
PLUS access to a
celebrity stylist
Skews older –
women 18-45 like
the game and
older women
spend more $
Aspirational dress-
up in designer
fashions PLUS
advice from aspiring
player-stylists
Like/Dislike metrics
via interviews with
hardcore fashion
gamers
MVP Canvas AFTER
Young women
(18-30) who play
mobile fashion
games
F2P co-op game
with real-world
fashion content
and hot trends
Vogue alternative –
stay up-to-date on
fashion by playing
– not just looking
F2P game exp.
Addressable
audience for fashion
games
Young women
want a mobile
game based on
real-world fashion
PLUS access to a
celebrity stylist
Skews older –
women 18-45 like
the game and
older women
spend more $
Aspirational dress-
up in designer
fashions PLUS
advice from aspiring
player-stylists
Like/Dislike metrics
via interviews with
hardcore fashion
gamers
And will spend $
on a game based
on real-world
fashion
And up-and-
coming stylists
Iterative lo-fi
play-testing
à
Hit Game
Try these techniques for yourself
getting2alpha.com/shortcuts
Turbo-charge
your path to
product/market fit
getting2alpha.com
Startup Teams
Product Leaders
Innovative Companies
Thank you
amyjokim@gmail.com
@amyjokim
#Getting2Alpha

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The 7 Habits of Breakthrough Innovators

Editor's Notes

  1. Welcome! Use the hashtag #Getting2Alpha to tweet comments and questions about this presentation.
  2. Today we’ll start with a short introduction
  3. Then we’ll get right into the 7 habits that characterize breakthrough innovators
  4. Followed by 3 practical shortcuts you can use right away to turbo-charge your design process
  5. If you’re an entrepreneur, an innovator, or a maker– you already know that everything starts with a hunch.... an exciting idea to explore... A hot area to pursue,..
  6. a vision for a product game app or device you’re itching to build. But until you’ve developed and tested it
  7. , your idea is only a hypothesis. How do you know if today’s idea is the right one to pursue?
  8. I’m Amy Jo Kim game and product designer specializing in early-stage innovation.
  9. At Shufflebrain, we’ve had the pleasure of working with many great companies and teams – all trying to build something innovative and new. Some were more successful than others.
  10. A handful of our early-stage clients went on to become genre-defining hits. What set these breakthrough innovations apart?
  11. Can we identify habits, beliefs and behaviors that reliably lead to smarter, faster, innovation?
  12. I think we can – and today, I’m going to share the 7 habits of teams who produce successful breakthrough innovations.
  13. The first is foundational: Think Like a Scientist.
  14. Successful innovations start with small, iterative experiments designed to answer the most important questions. This meshes well with a Lean Startup approach, where the path to success involves moving quickly through the build/measure/learn cycle
  15. The most striking pattern - shared by ALL the successful innovations I’ve worked on – is a willingness to ask the hard, important questions upfront, AND then seek the answers experimentally
  16. The Sims spent years experimenting with different approaches to bringing a virtual dollhouse to life, finally settling on a design that became the highest-grossing PC franchises of all time.
  17. The early team at eBay experimented with a variety of social systems for building trust among buyers and sellers, at a time when online shopping was a niche activity.
  18. The Rock Band team faced a daunting product challenge: could non-musicians – playing plastic instruments – make music together and FEEL like a band? Answering that question was fundamental: – without a resounding YES, nothing else mattered.
  19. The Covet Fashion team had created several mobile fashion games – and hit a wall. To create a breakthrough hit, they needed to reach a broader audience of fashion-loving women Using a disciplined, experimental approach –the team iterated their way into Crowdstar’s biggest success to date.
  20. The team behind Happify knew first-hand the power and efficacy of science-based happiness exercises. What they needed to know was whether people would pay for guided happiness exercises within a convenient, game-like service.
  21. #2 characterizes how successful innovations get started – by focusing on and delighting a small, passionate group of early adopters. They don’t always look like Segway-riding rock stars – your job is to recognize the right early adopters for YOUR project
  22. to innovate successfully, – you NEED to find & delight a handful of people who are LOOKING for what you’re offering – and will put up with cost, inconvenience and and ridicule to use your product because it solves their problem, or meets some real need.
  23. Have you ever heard of Crossing the Chasm – by Geoffrey Moore? This influential book talked about the difficulty of marketing innovative products to a mass market - and opened people’s eyes to the key differences between early adopters and early majority.
  24. Moore’s book was based on work done three decades earlier -- Everett Roger’s Innovation Diffusion Theory is a data-driven model of how new products spread through existing communities.
  25. Your early adopters can add value in many ways. Pierre Omidyar – the founder of eBay - was the original customer support rep for the service – and during a support interaction, an early user came up with the idea for eBay’s reputation system
  26. Will wright – the genius game designer behind The Sims – cultivated relationships with an active, highly creative group of super-fans who provided a rich source of ideas, user-testing and content creation long before the game ever shipped to paying customers.
  27. The Rock Band team knew that social dynamics could make or break their ambitious multi-player music game – so we focused on understanding the needs and habits of avid social gamers and non-musicians, which helped to create a massive crossover hit
  28. The third habit – learning early about customer needs and habits – can have a dramatic impact on customer uptake and adoption
  29. Too often, we assume that people will adopt a new habit to use our product or play our game – but it’s MUCH smarter to embed your experience into a habit that already exists.
  30. If you have the time & opportunity, interviewing people “in the field’ – meaning where they live,work or play – is a great way to understand more about their habits & needs. Early in the Rock Band project, we interviewed dozens of casual gamers, and gained early insights that helped to shape the game.
  31. #4 is about creating a culture of iteration and learning. If you embrace lean methods – and want to set your team up for success – create a culture of quick, iterative, high-learning play-testing in your team and organization.
  32. Successful innovators are tinkerers and experimenters –they test and refine many ideas – and include their customers in an iterative feedback loop from the start.
  33. In practice, setting up a regular rhythm usually gets the best results. One Covet Fashion, we setup weekly interviews with fashionable young women, gamers and non-gamers alike – and then used those sessions to test our early ideas – and then later our systems and interfaces, once the game was playable.
  34. The Sims team developed an early Friday playtest within the team – and later grew those tests to include an enthusisastic, content-creating fan community.
  35. This habit builds on the previous ones. Once you’re in touch with passionate early customers, giving them an easy way to stay connected to you – AND to each other – is a high-leverage move.
  36. A well-run customer feedback community delivers ongoing value by keeping you engaged with passionate cusomters – and even more so, by giving you a way to listen in as your customers talk with each other about your product.
  37. Every breakthrough innovation I’ve worked has created and leveraged a early adopter feedback community Happify, for example, invited select early customers into a private Facebook group – and kept things alive with daily posts, polls and tidbits from the development pipeline.
  38. And don’t make the rookie mistake of lumping all your customer together into one big undifferentiated community. You can create new gathering place – such as the Slack channel shown here – to gather feedback from later customers, or different verticals within the community.
  39. This brings us to one of the most critical habits: testing and tuning the most important part of the customer experience FIRST.
  40. A Core Loop is a gaming concept that describes the interlocking activities, progress markers and rewards that a player experiences during a gaming session. As game designer Dan Cook says, skill-building and learning are an essential part of what makes games compelling fun.
  41. When you’re validating your product ideas, be careful not to fall into the trap of testing your marketing message – and thinking you’ve validated your core loop.
  42. A fake landing page will help you shape your message – but it’s NOT going to help you shape or test your core product experience.
  43. An operant conditioning loop – such as the Habit Loop (from the Power of Habit book) or the Hooked model – gets you closer to a Core Loop, because it’s based on feedback and rewards.
  44. What’s missing, though, is any notion of skill-building or personal empowerment. Skinner Boxes and operant conditioning loops can shape behavior – but they won’t lead to player delight or true long-term engagement.
  45. For that, you need skill-building. People enjoy getting better at something they care about. The process of learning and mastery is deeply, intrinsically motivating.
  46. To create a robust Core Loop, You want to combine compelling feedback with the skill-building power of games.
  47. Create repeatable, engaging activities that are triggered by an existing urge or need
  48. Build a feedback loop that promotes learning and skill-building
  49. close that loop by giving people compelling and meaningful reasons to return – and cues to remind them
  50. Breakthrough innovations spend lots of time up-front getting this core experience loop right. The Rock Band tea, for example, created a War Room for protoyping and testing early versions of the game – and didn’t add features or polish until the feel of that early play experience ROCKED.
  51. Although it’s much simpler, Twitter’s Core Loop has the sample basic dyanmics
  52. This habit i- creating a path to mastery - is the golden key to building long-term engagement with your customers.
  53. teams who produce Breakthrough innovations recognize the importance of early adopters – and find ways to co-create with them – empower them - learn from them, and leverage their skills, knowledge and passions to bring the full product vision to life.
  54. You can engage ALL your customers with progressive skill-building...
  55. But you’ll only engage your best customers – your early adopters, enthusiasts and passionate advocates – and-- by giving them the tools, powers and rewards of mastery.
  56. More than anything, these people want to have an impact. One simple way to enable that is by testing early mockups and ideas with your early customer communitym as Happify did regularly. You’ll get valuable feedback – and your early customers will feel special and important.
  57. For Rock Band, the mastery systems were built around the Rock-N-Roll fantasies of social gamers and non-musicians – something the team absorbed through interviews & early testing.
  58. And Covet Fashion was created from the ground up around rating systems that naturally bubble true fashion expertise among the players.
  59. Ultima Online – an early precursor to World of Warcraft – offered many different earned roles to loyal players to help police & manage their gameworld
  60. 7 habits that set the stage of breakthrough innovations. These habits don’t guarantee success – that takes hard work, persistence, luck, and market timing – but what they WILL do is increase your chances of building something innovative that people want and need.
  61. Now let’s switch gears, and take a look at 3 smart shortcuts you can start using TODAY to turbo-charge your customer discovery process.
  62. The first shortcut is the MVP Canvas – a 1-page document, similar to the Business Model Canvas, but highly targeted to the needs of early stage product development.
  63. First you clarify your product strategy by forming hypotheses about your early customers, unmet needs, solution and value prop.
  64. You also identify your team’s strengths, value and passions – and the early metrics you’ll use to measure success
  65. You’ll then list and prioritize your most important, high-risk assumptions – and use that list to focus your prototyping and testing efforts.
  66. The second shortcut is the Speed Interview – part of our Early Adopter Funnel, shown here. This is a powerful technique for generating early product insights & excellent testing subjects.
  67. You conduct 10-15 quick interviews with potential early adopters – who you can find & filter in a variety of ways –spending 5-10 minutes on each interview
  68. You ask just a few revealing questions - carefully-chosen to surface the needs, habits and ideas of true early adopters
  69. once the interviews are complete, you’ll identify 5-7 enthusiastic early adoptees who would make great testing subjects – along with actionable customer insights that you can use in for product design
  70. The third shortcut is Habit Stories – a variation on Job Stories, or Jobs-To-Be-Done
  71. Habit Stories help you harvest the most actionable product insights from your customer interviews and testing sessions
  72. A habit story is a special type of job Story – one that’s built around your customer’s existing habits and unmet needs.
  73. If you’re looking for shortcuts to customer engagement and satisfaction, piggyback your product experience on to of an existing habit – amd solve a problem or unmet need that goes along with that habit.
  74. Let’s look at how Covet Fashion used these techniques to super-charge their early product development – and design a hit game
  75. Covet Fashion came about because Crowdstar saw an opportunity to expand the fashion gaming market by integrating with real-world fashion brand, Our initial product strategy involved letting fashion gamers play dress-up with real world brands – and get advice from a well-known celebrity stylist.
  76. Our initial product vision was a free-to-play co-operative mobile game tied to fashion trends and real-world events. We wanted to offer people a replacement for Vogue” – something beautiful to flip through and play with that keeps you up-to-date on fashion trends.
  77. Our unfair advantages are 1) extensive F2P experience and 2) an addressible audience for testing and marketing the game. Out early metrics were subjective responses drawn from weekly interviews.
  78. Our key assumption was the basic premise of blending real-world fashion cycles with a F2P mobile game. We also wanted to understand the value-add – or not – of a celebrity stylist.
  79. For the speed interviews, we spoke with young fashion-loving women – both gamers and non-gamers
  80. We did the interviews as phone screening – with paid testing as a followup for the best interviews.
  81. We completed the first round in 2 weeks, which gave us useful customer insights and testing subjects to work with.
  82. From these early sessions, three key patterns emerged that corresponded to different types of fashion gamers.
  83. The first is the Fashion Browser – someone who loves staying up to date on fashion trends, and immersing herself in the beautiful aspirational world of Vogue,
  84. WE translated these research insights into design decisions by creating a Habit Story around her existing habits and unmet needs
  85. The second pattern we identified is the Co-creator – someone who likes to dress, shop and primp in co-op mode, with a buddy
  86. Writing her Habit Story helped us see the need for a Shared Closet – which became a much-loved feature of the finished game
  87. The third pattern we identified is the Armchair Stylist - Someone very opinionated about fashion, who loves to tell other people how to dress
  88. Her Habit Story helped us get inside the mindset of a wanna-be stylist, and create a in-game rating system to empower and highlight these people
  89. We updated our MVP Canvas to reflect what we learned. Our hypotheses were largely confirmed – and our age targets tweaked a bit.
  90. The F2P game we’d envisioned looked like it could be a hit with fashion-loving young women who own smartphones and tablets
  91. SO we validated our initial assumptions, and generated NEW assumptions to guide our next round of testing.
  92. And that’s how a solid start in low-fidelity, high-learning playtesting helped Crowdstar create their largest hit to date.
  93. Now that you see how these ideas work together, I encourage you to try our these shortcuts and techniques for yourself –just click anywhere on this slide, or goto MVP DESIGN HACKS DOT COM SLASH SHORTCUTS – or click anywhere on this slide
  94. If you want more, check out Getting2Alpha – our online coaching program to turbo charge your path to product/market fit
  95. Thank you for your time – I hope you enjoyed this, and I’d love to hear from you.