The Market Opportunity Navigator: A New Take!

The Market Opportunity Navigator: A New Take!

This week’s blog post is by Kerrianne Marino

The Market Opportunity Navigator is a set of three tools that help project teams ideate, organize, and strategize their market opportunities. Created by “Where to Play,” it is designed “to help [teams] get a clear overview of [their] potential market domains and make confident decisions on where to play next.”

While “Where to Play” focuses on business strategy goals, these tools can aid discussions on which research topics, proposals, areas of interest, or other ideas the group should pursue.

The “traditional” method as outlined on the Market Opportunity Navigator is only one option to put these tools in practice. I adopted the Agile Focus Dartboard and Attractiveness Map in a slightly different way recently during an ITK session. Regardless of the approach, establishing action items at the end of any session is essential in setting ideas into motion!

In practice – Agile Focus Dartboard & Attractiveness Map

In a recent ITK session I facilitated, 3 groups of 3-4 worked together to brainstorm goals for 1, 3-5, and 10 years for a new software wellness initiative that aimed to transform how MITRE approaches “healthy” software development by creating an inclusive community and collection of resources. We used the Agile Focus Dartboard as a visual aid for the groups to note the area of focus they should be brainstorming in.

The year 1 group was the “pursue now” section, and they were tasked with brainstorming initiatives that the team could start on right away. The 3-5 year group was “keep open,” where they came up with ideas that could come into play, or be “launched” several years from now. The 10 year groups was “place in storage,” and they thought of the practices, resources, and culture shifts that they hoped MITRE would lead a decade in the future. While these substitutions aren’t exact matches for the listed categories, they gave context for the groups to work toward.

In the smaller groups, the teams brainstormed for 20 minutes on dry-erase laminate cards (an alternative for sticky notes), and placed their thoughts on an appropriate quadrant in the Attractiveness Map.

We then discussed in turns all three Attractiveness Maps in a larger group to consider and include other’s opinions on where the ideas would fall in the quadrant based on experience. For example, we thought about the lift that research proposals would take in the year 1 timeframe. Originally, we thought this idea would be a quick win, but when discussing with the larger group, we moved this to a gold mine.

Example: Culture Change – Act Now for Later?

Because we were starting a brand new wide-spread initiative that aims to change how engineers at MITRE work, culture change was a big topic that all three groups discussed. When we came together, we agreed that it would fit into something to pursue now, even though we may not see the change for 3-5 or even 10 years.

Year 1 identified this culture shift as a moon shot, and the 3-5 and 10 year as somewhere in the middle of the quadrant. We knew if we didn’t start acting on culture-changing efforts now, this culture shift would delay, so we made action items in “year 1/pursue now” to initiate the kind of practices that will drive the desired long-term changes. For example, the group considered using incentives like small company awards as an immediate “low challenge, medium potential” option to catalyze this culture change.

Our Take

While the Market Opportunity Navigator was designed for business goals, our Software Wellness Center initiative team was able to tailor and adopt this strategy to our goals of providing the best services for software developers to develop healthy software for all.

If you’d like to give it a try, here’s a quick summary of the steps involved:

  1. On a large whiteboard, draw out the Attractiveness Map
  2. Organize groups of 3-4 people per group in each category in the Agile Focus Dartboard (Pursue Now, Keep Open, Place in Storage)
    • Have the Agile Focus Dartboard on display as a visual aid to show participants where their group lands
  3. Give participants sticky notes and ideate for 20 or so minutes, placing items in their associated quadrant
  4. Come together as a group to share out each board and iterate based on team feedback
  5. Set action items to put ideas into motion!

Alternatives

  • The “traditional way” (see steps on Market Opportunity Navigator). Ideate first, then place stickies on Attractiveness Map, then place stickies on Agile Focus Dartboard
  • Hand out or have on display the Attractiveness Map and/or Agile Focus Dartboard as a visual aid to focus brainstorming discussions. For example, you could use the Lotus Blossom tool to ideate only ideas that would be Gold Mine’s that the group could Pursue Now.
Writing is…

Writing is…

Writing is HARD.

I think that one of the reasons that writing is hard is that it requires clarity of thought. It requires a purpose. And the blank page can imply a lack of both.

Writing also requires a certain level of technical skill, in order to avoid using awkward phrases like “I think that one of the reasons that writing is hard is that…” Yikes. That’s some bad writing right there.

HOWEVER… the secret to good writing is to first write badly. Good writing is just bad writing, rewritten. And so, good writers allow themselves to write bad first drafts, turning off their inner editor and letting the words flow, however messily.

One might even perform an exercise such as the following:

“These words I am currently writing are the wrong words. I am writing them but they are not exactly what I want to say. This is ok. I will delete these words later, because they do not make my point, do not advance the narrative, do not add clarity or value to the overall piece, and some of them are probbabbly misssplled. They do, however, help me build momentum and they give me something to work with, even if the only work to be done is the work of deletion. I will now delete this previous paragraph, because what I really want to say is…”

So… maybe writing is EASY.

Just put ink on paper.
Edit later.
Think later.
Yeah, I like that.
Ink now, think later.
Maybe that makes sense.
Maybe it’s true.
Maybe it’s good advice?
I don’t know yet, but I might know tomorrow, when I come back to this page and read it with tomorrow’s eyes, a fresh eraser, and a sharpened pencil.

What does this have to do with ITK? A lot, actually, because communication is a key aspect of innovation. The best ideas in the world are worthless if we can’t express them clearly, so developing our ability to write is an important component of our ability to innovate.

Getting The Most Out Of Hybrid Workshops

This week’s post is by Josh LeFevre, Julie Williams Stogner

COVID-19 changed the way we all collaborate. As individuals and organizations make decisions about the future of their workplace, we are likely to see more collaboration sessions with a blend of in-person and remote participants. While Josh’s personal preference is to host workshops that are all in-person or all virtual, we’d like to share what we’ve learned from a recent hybrid workshop we led.

This should be the beginning of the conversation around how to make ITK, design or innovation style workshops most effective in the growing hybrid collaboration space.

THE CASE STUDY
In May, Julie asked Josh to develop and facilitate a workshop to help improve decision advantage for logistics teams that are stood up in times crisis . Throughout June and July, Josh and Julie worked closely with the sponsor to craft a half-day in-person workshop with a series of activities to achieve the desired outcomes.

The sponsor asked all the participants to attend in-person to elevate the level of collaboration. One week prior to the planned workshop, some participants expressed they could no longer attend in person or that they only felt comfortable attending virtually, due to COVID-19. While this abrupt change was not ideal, we quickly pivoted to run a hybrid workshop with six in-person participants and four virtual participants.

As one participant observed, the workshop turned out great “due in large part to the upfront planning and exceptional team support.”

If you are going to lead a hybrid ITK session, consider using this brief checklist:

IN A HYBRID CONTEXT

  • Test all connections, tools and tool access (like MURAL) for participants, video feeds, microphones, Teams access, projectors/monitors, etc., are working properly and are in sync to ensure virtual portion of the meeting will not have technical difficulties
    • Leave enough time to troubleshoot (do not wait till the day of to test)
  • Ensure all materials are printed or available online ahead of time
  • Have one lead facilitator and at least two – four co-facilitators (3-5 facilitators total)
    • Lead facilitator should attend in person if possible
    • Have at least 1-2 extra co-facilitators in-person to collect notes and update lead facilitator of incoming virtual feedback. One of these facilitators should be responsible to monitoring the online chat and video feeds in the room.
      • The secondary facilitator may be needed as escort for participants depending on site guidelines
    • Have at least 1-2 facilitators online to capture notes, transcribe in-person activities and manage online conversations. One of these facilitators should be confident running a virtual workshop on their own in case there are technical issues.
  • Make “video on” a requirement for virtual participants (or at least when they speak and participate). Video on encourages engagement and less distraction of virtual attendees. This also helps in-person participants feel as if they are being eased dropped on.
  • If using MURAL (digital whiteboard) and in-person whiteboards, make sure both are updated and match synchronously
    • This can be done by either an in person or online facilitator
    • This task is incredibly challenging as those attending virtually cannot always see the activity outputs until they are completed
      • Encourage participants to read their contributions as they are added
      • Facilitator (Lead) can re-read the up-voted contributions
      • Secondary facilitator can take pictures after each activity to ensure the online participants and facilitator(s) are able to follow
    • Take time to pause and invite virtual participants to contribute to discussions
    • Take breaks after dot voting to tabulate online and in-person votes
    • Consider utilizing an MS Form version of Rose, Bud, Thorn
    • Use printed handouts and virtual handouts for attendee bios, instructions for site, instructions for activities, contact information for follow on discussions (create these ahead of time)

ADDITIONAL THINGS TO TRY

  • Have a smart projector or large touchscreen up in the room for in-person and remote persons to collaborate seamlessly via a digital interface
  • Provide video feeds via tablet or mobile device at every in-person working group to facilitate a stronger in-person/remote collaboration during discussions
  • Pair up one in-person participant with a remote participant, throughout the workshop, to ensure the remote participant’s voice is heard and has a clear access to provide contributions to mixed (in-person and virtual) breakout groups
  • Take more frequent but shorter breaks to ensure remote attendees stay connected and to sync in-person and virtual contributions, as needed
  • Conduct a “how to” MURAL or platform training ahead of the hybrid workshop

 

Introducing The Time Blossom

Introducing The Time Blossom

Today’s blog post is by Allison Khaw

Let me tell you about the Time Blossom!

This innovation tool can be used to help you better manage your time on a project. On a larger scale, the Time Blossom is one of several existing “X-Blossoms,” which are specially-themed variations of the Lotus Blossom. Inspired by the diversity of X-Blossoms created before me, I chose time management as the underlying theme for the Time Blossom because of how pivotal a role it plays in our busy world today.

First, a refresher—to use the Lotus Blossom, start by labeling its center box with a problem or topic of your choice. From there, leverage the tool’s grid structure to brainstorm ideas and propagate them outward to the surrounding blossoms. These ideas may be characteristics, categories, or solutions related to your central topic, but the key is that you’ll generate many of them in a rapid manner.

The Time Blossom has the same structure as its parent tool, but it is pre-populated with eight open-ended questions that revolve around time management and prioritization. Thus, to use the tool, select a project or subject area to focus on, and then fill in the outer blossoms with your answers in the context of your project.

It’s as simple as that.

In particular, consider the top row of questions in the Time Blossom. Think of these as the “Goldilocks” questions, but in units of time: they ask you to identify tasks that are running “too hot,” “too cold,” or “just right.” In fact, the question, “What are we spending the right amount of time on?” was not included in an older version of the Time Blossom; only after early testing did I discover its importance. Recognizing what we’re doing right is just as valuable as recognizing what we can do better, after all!

A 9x9 grid of colored squares with words in most squares

Let’s take a look at a Time Blossom example. Imagine a fictional scenario where you and your team—Alisha, Gabe, Kai, Liz, Pat, Rob, and Stacy—are holding a brainstorming session on the development of your product. (This realistic premise stems from our very own choose-your-own-adventure-style book called The Toolbox of Innovation!) If you populated the Time Blossom as shown, what might you conclude about how effectively you are managing your time?

Perhaps your team would conclude that your product development is going well but could still be improved by the reprioritization of certain tasks. For instance, you might plan to spend more time with users or set up a meeting to uncover any hidden assumptions about your product. The boxes with thumbs-up symbols indicate the ideas that especially resonated with the team. Down the line, you might even hold Lotus Blossom sessions for some of the more complex ideas that should be further explored.

To me, improving your time management skills is as much about increasing your self-awareness as it is about working efficiently. Knowing which tasks you’re prioritizing, and why, can give you a sense of clarity that is hard to find otherwise. Tools are just one way to help with that. The Time Blossom is by no means the first—nor will it be the last—time management tool, but if it prompts you to reflect on these topics, it is time well spent.

Download an editable Time Blossom template

Stakeholder Toolchains

Stakeholder Toolchains

The Innovation Toolkit has 5 stakeholder-related tools, and now that you know which one to use and when, the question becomes: How can I create an ITK Stakeholder Toolchain?

As a quick refresher, Toolchains involve using a series of ITK tools in sequence, where the outputs of one tool becomes the input for the next tool. By chaining multiple tools together, you can help your team really make progress towards your intended objective.

Planning for stakeholders falls into three general steps, as listed below:

  1. Identifying who is a relevant stakeholder;
  2. Assessing which stakeholders to engage with; and
  3. Assessing the optimal engagement approach.

To create an ITK Stakeholder Toolchain, decide which planning steps are your objective. Next, pick & choose a tool that supports each step. If your objective is only one of the planning steps, then pick both of the tools. Voila! Now you have an ITK Stakeholder Toolchain.

Here are six example ITK Stakeholder Toolchains based on your objective:

 

 

#1 Stakeholder Toolchain: I want to identify a list of relevant stakeholders
Venn Diagram with two circles. Left circle is labeled Identification and right circle is labeled Assessment. In the left circle, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Identification Canvas (labeled 2) and Community Map (labeled 1). Arrows show iteration between the two tools.
#2 Stakeholder Toolchain: I want to categorize and assess multiple stakeholders
Venn Diagram with two circles. Left circle is labeled Identification and right circle is labeled Assessment. In the intersection of the two circles, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Power Categories (labeled 1) and Stakeholder Map & Matrix (labeled 2). Arrows show iteration between the two tools.
#3 Stakeholder Toolchain: I want to identify and categorize stakeholders
Venn Diagram with two circles. Left circle is labeled Identification and right circle is labeled Assessment. In the left circle, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Identification Canvas and Community Map. These are collectively labeled as ‘1’ with instruction to ‘Pick One.’ In the intersection of the two circles, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Power Categories and Stakeholder Map & Matrix. These are collectively labeled as ‘2’ with instructions to ‘Pick One.’
#4 Stakeholder Toolchain: I want to categorize and plan engagements for stakeholders
Venn Diagram with two circles. Left circle is labeled Identification and right circle is labeled Assessment. In the intersection of the two circles, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Power Categories and Stakeholder Map & Matrix. These are collectively labeled as ‘1’ with instructions to ‘Pick One.’ In the right circle, one tool is listed: Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement Canvas (labeled ‘2’ with iteration arrows and instructions to ‘Repeat for each stakeholder’).
#5 Stakeholder Toolchain: I want to incorporate equity considerations when identifying, assessing, and planning engagements for stakeholders
Venn Diagram with two circles. Left circle is labeled Identification and right circle is labeled Assessment. In the left circle, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Identification Canvas (labeled ‘1’) and Community Map. In the intersection of the two circles, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Power Categories (labeled ‘2’) and Stakeholder Map & Matrix. In the right circle, one tool is listed: Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement Canvas (labeled ‘3’ with iteration arrows and instructions to ‘Repeat for each stakeholder’).
#6 Stakeholder Toolchain: I want to identify, categorize, and plan engagements for stakeholders
Venn Diagram with two circles. Left circle is labeled Identification and right circle is labeled Assessment. In the left circle, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Identification Canvas and Community Map. These are collectively labeled as ‘1’ with iteration arrows between them. In the intersection of the two circles, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Power Categories and Stakeholder Map & Matrix. These are collectively labeled as ‘2’ with iteration arrows between them. In the right circle, one tool is listed: Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement Canvas (labeled ‘3’ with iteration arrows and instructions to ‘Repeat for each stakeholder’).
While there are many stakeholder-related methods and tools on the market, our goal with these ITK stakeholder tools is to help teams quickly get started or unstuck when thinking through how to include relevant stakeholders for their effort. We encourage teams to use the ITK tools in combination with other market tools to create even more Stakeholder Toolchains.

Let us know how it goes in the comments below!

Links to ITK Stakeholder Tools:

 

Which ITK Stakeholder tool should I use and when?

Which ITK Stakeholder tool should I use and when?

Tips on selecting from the 5 different ITK stakeholder tools

– – –

Planning for stakeholders falls into three general steps:

  1. Identifying who is a relevant stakeholder;
  2. Assessing which stakeholders to engage with; and
  3. Assessing the optimal engagement approach.

The Innovation Toolkit now has 5 stakeholder-related tools, which serve different purposes and are complementary with each other. These tools are best used early in the effort, but they can be revisited whenever the effort needs to interact or collaborate with the people involved, interested, or impacted by the effort.

Here are some quick tips for when to use each stakeholder tool.

ITK Tool What is it Scope of Tool When to use it Why use it

Stakeholder Identification Canvas

 

Ideate a more comprehensive & representative set of relevant stakeholders to your effort (Ideally) All stakeholders Step #1 – Identifying who is a relevant stakeholder The embedded equity lens helps broaden the team’s perspective to consider stakeholders beyond the default set

Community Map

 

A fast way to capture and prioritize stakeholders (Ideally) All stakeholders Step #1 – Identifying who is a relevant stakeholder Can be conducted very quickly because of the simple and intuitive categories (which can be tailored to the team’s effort)
Stakeholder Power Categories Quickly categorize and assess which stakeholders to engage Multiple stakeholders Step #2 – Assessing which stakeholders to engage with The embedded equity lens highlights impacted stakeholders and how to elevate their roles on the effort

Stakeholder Map & Matrix

 

Look across multiple stakeholders and categorize them according to key variables (e.g., interest, influence, impact) Multiple stakeholders Step #2 – Assessing which stakeholders to engage with Can assess and compare multiple stakeholders at the same time

Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement Canvas

 

A quick way to begin developing a plan for effectively engaging a stakeholder Individual stakeholder Step #3 – Assessing the optimal engagement approach The embedded equity lens helps the team explore four additional considerations beyond the default to help create more equity-informed engagements

While there are many stakeholder-related methods and tools on the market, our goal with these ITK stakeholder tools is to help teams quickly get started or unstuck when thinking through how to include relevant stakeholders for their effort. We encourage teams to use the ITK tools in combination with other market tools to successfully identify, assess, and plan engagements with stakeholders.

Let us know how it goes in the comments below!