The A* league

Remember when I talked about knowing your league? Well I lied when I started the list with an A-league.

In every endeavour this is also an superior A* league. It only exists for a tiny minority of superstars.

If this is your league:

  1. Learn to correctly identify other A* players.
  2. You will suffer in any of the other leagues.
  3. A* is international – never national.
  4. Stay in your lane.

[This article is part of the Innovation Snippets series]

Principles vs Product

An ideology or principles driven approach tends to lead to a failure to identify a market need.

A populist, ear to the ground, approach will find a better market, but may (i) fail to build a product, (ii) not deliver on real-world objectives.

There is always a tension. Know where you are on the spectrum and where your potential blindspots may lie.

[This article is part of the Innovation Snippets series]


My thoughts on hiring have evolved a lot.

I used to hire from the perspective of effectively mentoring the candidates into the role. This does not scale. And any payoff comes far too late.

What I have learned the hard way:

  1. Any compromises on hiring will come back to bite you.
  2. Hire for fit. To task and to team.
  3. Hire for ability to deliver on day 1.
  4. Hire for a growth mindset and ownership.

[This article is part of the Innovation Snippets series]

Be normal

Be normal. You cannot risk being an outlier in all aspects of your business.

Your responsibility is to minimise the overall risk without killing the potential upside.

[This article is part of the Innovation Snippets series]

IDEO three lenses of innovation

IDEO – the people behind design thinking – have a wonderful model for product innovation. It’s called the three lenses of innovation. A good product opportunity must be:

  1. Desirable
  2. Feasible
  3. Viable

In health-tech the same three lenses apply but there is a clear priority ranking.

Always start with Desirable. What is the evidence that anybody wants this product?

The next cheapest question to address is financial Feasibility. Can you make money from selling this product?

Technical feasibility comes last. It has huge financial overheads and consumes too much time.

For every rule there is an exception: I have had projects where the clinical need was so overwhelmingly obvious the only real question was whether technology had developed to the point of presenting a solution. That said, we did also address the desirability and feasibility topics in parallel.

[This article is part of the Innovation Snippets series]

Write things down

Many entrepreneurs are excellent sales people. Part of good selling is allowing the customer to paint their own vision onto your offering.

However, most entrepreneurs fail to bring a product to market because they are describing a different product to each of their stakeholders.

Write your product descriptions down!

Make your offer precise.

Use shared whiteboards and pitch decks.

Ask for critique. Invite critique. Do not shoot the messenger, they are your ally.

[This article is part of the Innovation Snippets series]

Introducing: Innovation series

I have been distracted by doing rather than writing for the past year. While this is likely to continue, I did have time to make a lot of notes on Innovation, particularly in my own field of machine learning and healthcare. So for the next few months I will post one innovation snippet per week.

These snippets are very similar in format to those presented by Seth Godin or Bernadette Jiwa. This means that I won’t go into too much explanatory details. I was hoping to put them together into a small book, but for now I just offer them as is here on this blog.

[This article is part of the Innovation Snippets series]