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Taylor Halverson, January 3, 2017

Innovation is a core skill of the 21st century. Innovation is about discovering previously unknown problems and providing sustainable solutions to those problems or discovering new solutions to known problems.

During the past two decades a number of influential books have championed the skills of innovation such as The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution, The Innovator’s DNA, and The Innovator’s Method. These books identify strategies innovators should pursue, qualities that constitute successful innovators, and methods for translating these skills into sustainable business models.

Essential to the innovator’s abilities is experimentation.

Individuals and businesses that conduct simple, fast, frugal experiments will more quickly discover previously unknown problems and solutions. In today’s fast paced environment of competition and change, being a successful experimenter can prove to be the competitive edge needed to stay at the forefront of success.

So, “how can simple, fast, frugal experiments drive innovation?”

Simple experiments are ones that test the most relevant, applicable characteristics of a problem.

Fast experiments are those that can be conducted in a matter of hours, days, or weeks.

Frugal experiments are those that cost very little to design, implement, and interpret.

Accelerate innovation through competitive experimentation teams, using what is called a 5x5 X-team approach.

“The 5x5 X-team approach is a rapid innovation methodology emphasizing lightweight, high-impact experimentation, as follows: Give a diverse team of 5 people no more than 5 days to come up with a portfolio of 5 business experiments that cost no more than $5,000 (each) and take no longer than 5 weeks to run. The willingness to ask simple questions is essential. Simplicity invites ingenuity. The 5x5 offers a fast, cheap, and ingenious method for innovators to revisit-and test- business fundamentals safely. Simple questions about customer segmentation, sales, pricing, performance, and language inspire successful, high-impact hypotheses.”

Businesses seeking to scale their innovative potential may find the 5x5 X-team approach a promising business strategy to achieve greater innovation and success.

Taylor Halverson, Ph.D.

(Some of the ideas for this article are based on the book The Innovator’s Hypothesis: How Cheap Experiments are Worth More than Good Ideas by Michael Schrage.)