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About This Episode

Focus can multiply the impact of an organization’s efforts. However, distractions divide and diffuse impact. One of the most significant sources of distractions in most small businesses is us — the leaders. It’s in our nature to see all of the things that can be improved and all of the trends we need to capitalize on, but it’s on us to keep our team focused on the main thing. Luckily, some strategies allow us to explore the possibilities without derailing our team. 

In this episode, we’ll be learning how and when to prototype and pilot new ideas before launching them. Today’s guest is David Farmer, the Vice President of Restaurant Experience at Chick-fil-A — the third-largest restaurant chain in America.

In each episode, we highlight one next step for you and provide an activation or delegation guide to help you immediately take action, start applying what you learn, and get your team to help you.

Your Next Step

Learn more about the Launch Loop in a free ebook developed by David Farmer and the team at MNTR (formerly Launch Youniversity). It’s titled “The Launch Loop: 5 Steps Guaranteed to Get Your Ideas Off the Ground.” As David described in the podcast, The Launch Loop is a proven process that has helped the world’s most successful organizations effectively launch new ideas. The ebook simplifies and organizes these principles so leaders at every level, in any situation, can more consistently get their ideas off the ground.

 

Download Now

1. Place a few big bets.

Continuous improvement is essential, but it’s not enough. You’re making modifications to your business today to win in the current business landscape. Unfortunately, the market is always changing, which means your improvements today and could be obsolete in a year. To ensure your organization is ready for what’s to come, you’ll need to strategically place a few big bets on where you see the market going so you can begin preparing yourself and your organization to meet your customers’ future needs.

2. Create a culture of innovation.

The future of your organization can be cultivated by more than the leader of the team. However, it’s hard to maximize contributions from the team when every new idea or solution is developed by chance. It’s impractical to wait for the right idea to be shared at the right time by the right person so the right decision-maker will hear it. Serendipity isn’t a strategy. Use or create a process for innovation that safeguards the organization from overly diffusing resources, decentralizes creativity to engage the entire team, and continually prepares the organization for the future.

3. Think big and start small.

Developing expensive, near-complete versions of our ideas and solutions often skews our perspective as leaders. We think about all the money and hours our organization spent on the idea, and we become more invested in the idea than the outcome. To give our heads level and reduce risk, prototype your ideas first in the simplest, fastest, and cheapest way possible. Surprisingly, by limiting your financial and time investment, you’ll also limit your emotional investment and empower yourself to make better decisions.

3. Require feedback.

As leaders, we’ve spent our career refining our intuition. However, our instincts are most useful in situations similar to something we’ve experienced before. The focus of innovation is doing something new, something your organization has never done before. So, if you want to trust your gut, do it while you’re developing your prototype. After that, require feedback from your team and, most importantly, your customers. The only to verify your solution works is to let the people who buy it use or experience it.

Chick-fil-A’s David Farmer encouraged us always to be in the process of validating something, looking for customer feedback to affirm or disagree with what or how we provide elements of our product or service. What elements of your product, service, or business are you intentionally or casually validating by observing (or tracking) customer feedback?
What new ideas have you wanted to explore within the business over the 3-6 months? What problem do you believe each idea would solve for your customers and organization? How could you potentially prototype the idea to ensure it addresses the stated problem?
Beyond making continuous improvements to your business, have you explicitly or implicitly made some big bets regarding your organization’s future based on market trends? If so, what do you think you should next to validate your direction and reduce the risk of failure? If not, what can you do to ensure you’re prepared for changes in your market or industry?

“Celebrate failure. If you have failures, it means you’re trying a lot of stuff.”

David Farmer

“Ideas rarely launch as they were first imagined or created.”

David Farmer

“Make your mistakes when the stakes are low.”

David Farmer

“Assuming everyone shares your passion for your idea can work against you.”

David Farmer

What is Design Thinking?” [an article via IDEO U]

Chick-fil-A Innovation Center [a video tour via USA Today]

Chick-Fil-A Is Testing A New Solution To Crazy-Long Lines” [an article on how Chick-fil-A used its innovation process to improve drive-thru wait times via BuzzFeed News]

BELAY’s Social Media Strategist Services

(03:56) Today’s listener question: “How do companies decide which projects to undertake and test their new business ideas?”

(05:55) Why Chick-fil-A created a process for innovation

(07:35) Chick-fil-A’s five-step innovation process

(09:23) The definition and importance of prototyping

(13:08) Why leaders need a portfolio of ideas

(14:40) How to know your idea has been validated

(15:43) How business leaders can develop a mindset and discipline for prototyping and piloting before launching

(20:39) Tricia and Lisa share their takeaways

(22:23) Today’s One Next Step: Download “The Launch Loop: 5 Steps Guaranteed to Get Your Ideas Off the Ground” — an ebook developed by David Farmer and the team at MNTR to help you learn more about the innovation process used at Chick-fil-A and some of the world’s most successful organizations.

In each episode, we highlight one next step for you and provide an activation or delegation guide to help you immediately take action, start applying what you learn, and get your team to help you.

 

Your Next Step: Learn more about the Launch Loop in a free ebook developed by David Farmer and the team at MNTR (formerly Launch Youniversity). It’s titled “The Launch Loop: 5 Steps Guaranteed to Get Your Ideas Off the Ground.” As David described in the podcast, The Launch Loop is a proven process that has helped the world’s most successful organizations effectively launch new ideas. The ebook simplifies and organizes these principles so leaders at every level, in any situation, can more consistently get their ideas off the ground.

 

Download Now

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Join Us Next Week

Thank you for listening to One Next Step.

We hope you’ll join us for next week’s episode when Tricia and Lisa bring back BELAY’s Director of Marketing, Amy Appleton, to expand on their conversation from episode 006.  Amy is discussing how can you support your marketing before your first marketing hire by answering the question, “How do I market my business without a dedicated marketing employee or department?”