'Life is too short to make things nobody wants': Introducing the first ever FutureBook ThinkSprint

'Life is too short to make things nobody wants': Introducing the first ever FutureBook ThinkSprint

At this year’s FutureBook conference we’re trying something a little different to a panel or a keynote. 

In our new hour-long ‘ThinkSprint’ session, the founders of innovation agency ThinkSprint, Sam Reid and Scott Morrison, will be stress-testing three real innovation ideas, crowdsourced from the book trade. HarperCollins UK’s digital innovation and projects director, Nick Coveney, will be on hand to provide the publisher’s perspective - and chair an audience discussion, once the ideas have been analysed.

So how will this experiment work?

A week before the session, we’ll send out a simple brief document for you, the FutureBook audience, to fill in. Then 48 hours beforehand the ThinkSprint team will put those ideas to their global team of entrepreneurs, and a select group of consumers, to examine and feed back on. It’s a great opportunity to finally test out and refine those fresh and ambitious innovation projects you really want to embark on - but haven't been able to clarify, justify or fully commit to just yet.

It’s sure to be one of the most talked-about sessions of the day. Intrigued? Here’s more from Sam on how the ThinkSprint session will work, and why we think it will bring so much value to the FutureBook audience...

The Problem

New technology is creating lots of new behaviours. As a result, businesses are eager to innovate and seize the new opportunities that are arising.

There’s no lack of good ideas that might work. But there is a lack of proven ideas that do work. 

Most innovative ideas will not work for reasons you could never predict. When excitement is high and optimism takes over, we quickly assume too much. Therefore, a fast way to test big assumptions is essential. Before jumping in at the deep end, validate that...

  1. Consumers care about your idea (there’s a market)
  2. You can make money from your idea (there’s a business model)
  3. You can execute your idea (there’s a capability)

It’s simple stuff, yet it's not seen enough outside of the startup world. In a startup the usual mission is pretty straightforward:

  • First, prove the idea creates value on the smallest budget in the shortest amount of time...
  • So focus on something simple that you know you can test...
  • Then move onto the next assumption, and so on until a meaningful product or service starts to take shape.

The Solution

"To invent you need to experiment. If you know in advance that it's going to work, it's not an experiment."

Guess who?

Jeff Bezos (again). He’s built Amazon this way, from the ground up. This is why they’re able to innovate across so many fronts. It’s a way of thinking and not rocket science.

On paper: ‘sure, we totally think like that.’ In realty: ‘we can’t take our eye off sales.’ Net result: ‘we have lots of great ideas, but they never ship out the front door.’ If that sounds familiar this session might be helpful.

Here's how it works:

  1. You have an idea which you think has potential, but its not fully formed or tested so you give it to us.
  2. We uncover blindspots, then tune and test the idea in 48 hours.
  3. You get some objective facts to help you plan what to do next.

And here are the types of things you can throw at us:

  • We need a <insert shiny new tech> strategy. How relevant is this to our customer needs?
  • We’re going to invest in building <insert app, website, bot>. What do we need to understand to make sure we do it in the right way?
  • We’re think of launching a new <business model>. What might have we missed that could impact its success?

Taking these sorts of questions through the 'test and learn' process will save your company money and encourage the pursuit of bold ideas. (Caveat alert: If belief in quick experimentation and acceptance of failure doesn’t come from the very top, it’ll never take root and create meaningful impact. So pay attention, publishing leaders.)

The Session

Ahead of the FutureBook conference on Dec 1st we’re sending a call out for all those innovative ideas you have filed away under ‘to explore’ for a ThinkSprint tune and test. Worst case, you’ll know if the baby is ugly. Best case, you’ll have something sharpened up to build on.

To keep inline with the themes of the day, we specifically want stuff that falls across any of the categories below;

  1. On/offline: How best can digital and physical spaces work together to sell more books? e.g. You might be toying with geolocation but will it really work?
  2. Business models: What can we learn from the video on demand business? e.g. Is it possible to have a subscription model?
  3. Tech: From VR to games, how (should) book people be using interactive tech? e.g. You’re about to invest in a VR experience but is there really a market?

If the above sounds interesting and you’d like to get involved, then start collecting the ideas you'd like to test from across your company and stay tuned for more info...

Book your tickets to FutureBook 2017 here.