“Innovation” is at the core of creating successful new social ventures. But what is an “Innovation”? Simply stated, an “Innovation is an idea that is executable and actionable into value.”.
These innovations can be incremental or radical in nature and can be based around a single idea or a combination of ideas associated with such things as new or improved:
• products • services • process improvements • technologies or technology application • operating models • partnerships or alliances • organizational structures and alignments • client service delivery systems• approaches to improve solution awareness- preference-support-adoption cycles • approaches to more fully leverage an individual’s, community’s, organization’s assets and capabilities to better serve the community’s social challenges, needs, and problems, etc.
As our definition of “Innovation” highlights, a true innovation requires that an idea be executable and actionable into value. A good idea that is simply not executable or actionable is just that, simply a good idea. Good ideas play an important role in the innovation cycle as they provide the “sparks” that produce the heat for the innovation process to catch fire. Every great innovation is surrounded by a lot of simply good ideas. Finally, “value” is all about the impact and outcomes that will be generated by these executable and actionable ideas (“Innovations”). From our perspective, “Value” is realized when an executable and actionable idea has a sustainable direct and positive “net” benefit on the community; where that community is defined not only by its members who are most directly affected by the challenge, need, or problem being addressed, but also by the community’s ecosystem of partners, service providers, and direct service support structures that are engaged in servicing these community challenge, need, or problem areas. “Value” is also about creating “net” benefits through the implementation of more sustainable (and preferably self-sufficient) delivery and operational models; models that can not only have a positive impact on the community’s challenge, need, or problem areas but can also meet or exceed the social, emotional, and financial results expected by the entrepreneur, grantors, funders, sponsors, and/or other stakeholders who have invested their time, talent, and resources into the discovery, development, and implementation of the new social venture and its innovative new solutions.
An entrepreneurial leadership compass to help support a journey towards greater success
Many social venture entrepreneurs fail to fully realize the full potential of their work simply because they get off to a poor start and quickly fall prey to a range of human behavior patterns that work to undermine their leadership and social venture start-up and associated innovation success. We believe these leaders simply miss taking and/or managing a number of crucial early steps that we believe are essential to dramatically improving the chances for social venture start-up success. The Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework has been specifically structured and designed to help social venture entrepreneurs more effectively plan and navigate their journey towards achieving far greater success by helping them avoid these early missteps.
Before we move on to go over a high level recap of the of the Context and Concepts of each stage and step of the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework, let’s get on the same page in regards to the basic Social Venture Creation and its associated Innovation Lifecycle phases. We’ll use this as a context against which to understand the progression and focus of your work within the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework as well as to understand where it’s useful to establish milestones around which you should have important team and stakeholder alignment sessions (i.e., “Journey progress reviews”) aimed at helping keep you, your team, and/or your critical sponsoring stakeholders fully aligned on the start-up’s progress and committed to its forward-looking journey plans.
Journey “Kick-off” Review
· Entrepreneur/Leader Goal Setting and Self-assessment
· Social Venture Solution Directions: Brief Creation (including; Field of Interest clarity)
· Team Formation: Team Member Requirements/Needs Assessment and Team Member Recruitment
Community Needs & Challenges Journey Review
· Community Need/Challenge/Problem Orientation: Segments, Size, and Chosen Focus
· Stakeholder Analysis and Success Factor Assessment
· Community Ecosystem Map (s)
· Focus areas: Need/Problem Understanding/Analysis & “Day in the Life-Today” Stories
Concept Development Journey Review
· Ideation & Creation of “Day in the Life-Tomorrow” Stories & Ecosystem Implication Briefs
· Idea Evaluation and High Potential Idea Selection Analysis/Outcomes
· Concept Development, Rapid Prototyping (around Selected Ideas), Limited Phase 1 “Desirability” validation
Design Development Journey Review
· Reintegration of Concept Prototyping Feedback
· Design Development, Early Prototyping, Phase 2 “Desirability” User Validation / Design Plussing
· Design Development- Intermediate Design Prototyping, “Feasibility” Validation
· Final Design Prototyping and Field Testing/Feedback/User-Ecosystem, Phase 3 “Desirability and Feasibility” Validation
Funding/Sponsorship Checkpoint Review
· Social Venture or Social Venture Innovation Funding/Sponsorship Plan (Venture plan) Creation
· Funder/Sponsor Proposal Engagement Plan/Strategy & Next Actions
NOTE: While the above may seem reminiscent of a traditional “waterfall” model for driving venture start-up programs , the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework embraces and integrates a broad array of innovation and venture development approaches and concepts, including those highlighted in a number of other publications such as: “The Lean Start-up” (author; Eric Ries), “Human Centered Design- Tool Kit “ (IDEO.Org), etc. Leaders who follow the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework must continually ensure they and their teams remain agile in their work, while making absolutely certain to avoid prematurely selecting and fully developing specific idea/solution prototypes, etc. before it’s appropriate. We highly recommend that leaders progress as quickly as appropriately but yet sequentially through the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework’s first three stages (i.e., paralleling work up through the Community Needs and Challenges Journey Review highlighted above) before fully unleashing the iterative/agile oriented principles emphasized in books like "The Lean Start-up" and others. The first three stages of the Framework should be seen as truly “foundational” in terms of helping surface and capture critical information and insights that will help you accelerate and better focus your work throughout the remaining stages of your start-up journey.
The phases following these include: Production/Service Delivery development and build-out phase, Market Awareness/Development phase, Operational Launch/implementation phase, and the Operational Ramp-up and Stabilization/Steady-state phase where the goal is to achieve operational stability and targeted sustainability/self-sufficiency levels.
While many of the core principles that underlie the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework are applicable across these later phases, the Framework’s primary focus is on those phases bounded at one end by a Social Venture entrepreneur’s initial idea/inspiration/passion and desire to take deliberate actions to move forward and on the other end, by that entrepreneur and his/her team putting forward their funding and sponsorship proposals in order to secure the resources and support necessary to fully develop, launch, and scale up their new social venture.
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