Entrepreneurial & design thinking

Here are some concepts – lists, really – that you’ll want to keep handy as you move toward your entrepreneurial idea. These are on three main topics: Diffusion of Innovation; Thinking Entrepreneurially; Design thinking.

Let’s start with how ideas diffuse, or spread. I told you in Week 1 about the groups: Innovators; early adopters; early majority; late majority; laggards. But here’s HOW an idea spreads – here’s what a “potential adopter” thinks about before she/he decides to try something new:

Relative advantage; Compatibility with existing systems; Complexity; Trialability – this is my ability to play with whatever the new tech is before I have to spend money on it; Observability. This was the important part of some Iowa farmers being able to see the new seed and crap in their neighbor’s farm first hand before they had to commit to it. You see why innovators and early adopters are so important.

Okay, thinking entrepreneurially:

First, you need to have a problem that needs to be solved; So think about your daily life and struggles – traffic, parking, debt

Second, do some research. This might be your personal observation, you might interview a few folks, visit a neighborhood, look for some data, and check the historical record – news archives, city repositories, talk with some elders.

Third, start experimenting. Mark up an app, build a website, write and distribute a questionnaire, or tests and messaging – see if your initial idea holds water and then learn from that. The beauty of your training in digital media is that you can map out an idea on paper – which you’ll do tonight briefly – then build a website to test it, nearly for free.

Finally, if it starts to work to solve the problem, build in a culture of focus and innovation around solving that problem.

Some questions to help you “think entrepreneurially”:

Is there an audience for your idea/product/service/information?

How feasible is it?

How would we go about using digital media to try to solve this?

What’s the sales pitch?

Who would I sell it to and in what order?

How would I pay for it?

How might I profit from it?

Is it ethical, moral?

Is it sustainable beyond a month or a year?

Finally, Design thinking. There’s function and form – you want a product or service to DO something important, to serve a need – but if it’s elegant, inviting, friendly and easy to use – if it helps you FEEL better while you’re using it – that’s design thinking.

Steps to design thinking:

1) Learn from people (surveys, interviews, conversations, observations, data);

2) Find patterns (how do people use digital media; where; what device? For how long?);

3) Design principles (how should this be designed; weight; controls; interfaces; work with peripherals, like computers, wireless headphones, cables, wearables);

4) Make tangible (How might we get from here to there? How might our design help solve a problem?);

5) Iterate relentlessly (this just means starting, then taking more steps, then build, then build again, then adopt input from users and data and build again. It’s why smartphones have gotten bigger and more apps use accelerometers, geolocation and the camera; example: Carfinder)

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