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Hybrid Thinking

Design Thinking + Platform Thinking + Sales Thinking

Digital innovations lead to the creation of tech ventures. And these ventures come from many places: entrepreneurs with a vision, spinouts from established tech firms, digital agencies or IT and other operations within non-tech organisations.

Wherever a tech venture comes from, it needs to validate its new Value Proposition with its ultimate judge: one or more paying early adopter customers. This means breaking the traditional sequential journey of Design, Build, Sell - moving to an iterative approach of Design and Platform and Sell.

Then Build is replaced by Platform. This means focusing on the inherent advantages of Platform Thinking, where Build without Platform can often mean reinventing the technology wheel, with too much ground-up software coding applied - and too little networking and socialising in mind.

Definition

At Being Guided we have brought together three distinct skills for tech ventures. We call it Hybrid Thinking: the seamless convergence of Design Thinking, Platform Thinking and Sales Thinking - to move fast from idea to monetisation, and to reduce costs, time and risks along the way.

It's Design, Platform and Sell - in parallel activities. Here's what this means:

Design Thinking is five steps in a process for dynamic digital innovation: Empathize; Define; Ideate; Prototype; and, Test. What matters most here is uncovering both explicit and implicit needs of the target customer. This is validating the authenticity of the problem, together with the suitability of the corresponding solution proposed. The approach here is: hands-on, fail-fast - and iterate.

Platform Thinking is all about creating ecosystems, achieving more for less: improving or even disrupting business. Platforms are enablers that connect and orchestrate producers and consumers in the pursuit of a more efficient value creation and exchange. In technology terms, this includes applying a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). In business terms, Platform Thinking moves new ventures away from rigid hierarchies, towards networks - embracing outsourcing as a value accelerator.

Sales Thinking is how tech innovators can apply Demand Creation Selling to avoid expensive pitches and risky, buyer-led procurements. This is all about selling value propositions well ahead of completeness and often, at a highly conceptual stage. This relates directly to Design Thinking and Platform Thinking. This is where validating the value proposition with would-be paying customers, and leveraging an ecosystem of producers and consumers all reduces costs, time and risks.   

Purpose

Hybrid Thinking enables the tech venture to avoid the many pitfalls associated with new concepts. It is, fundamentally, a way to reduce costs, time and risks at each stage of evolution for a new Value Proposition. It also brings into play an outward-facing mindset, countering any tendencies towards 'ivory towers' for isolated, inward-looking tech development and resistance to outside ideas or outsourcing partners.

Design Thinking plus Platform Thinking plus Sales Thinking translates to Design and Platform and Sell, where Sell means engaging with paying customers at the earliest stage. In the real world, angel, venture and industrial investors all want assurances that ideas generated on the sellside serve timely, compelling needs on the buyside. Asking for angel, venture or industry funding without a paying customer in view is invariably either too expensive or simply unattainable.

Focus

Our work includes tech ventures that are built on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) innovations. This brings together high-value business challenges and opportunities, data science entrepreneurs and experts, digital agencies and tech platforms. We apply Hybrid Thinking to achieve the fastest, lowest-cost, lowest-risk route from idea to venture monetisation.

Practice

Of course, we know that AI and Machine Learning comes in many forms for a broad number of use cases and industry scenarios. It is inherently about trust: built from the receptivity and rapport generated by and between buyer and seller for a given AI/Machine Learning Value Proposition. We believe that new technologies cannot be applied to solving complex problems without a highly interactive, iterative process being established by the would-be buyer and seller coming together. We call this Mutual Value Discovery.

Mutual Value Discovery means moving through the five steps of Design Thinking: Empathize; Define; Ideate; Prototype; and, Test. As we found with digital health innovation, the AI and Machine Learning Platform requires a broad network of stakeholders to facilitate access to a meaningful array of structured and unstructured data. In turn, Mutual Value Discovery requires the highest levels of trust when sharing sensitive information, such as patient data - anonymised or not.

Trust is built on a foundation of receptivity and rapport among stakeholders in a Mutual Value Discovery Engagement. This crucially depends on communicating and agreeing upon clear outcomes - commercial and non-commercial - for all stakeholders across the buyside and sellside of any network engaged in Mutual Value Discovery. This translates to quantifying both an 'Economic Basis of Decision' and an 'Emotional Basis of Decision' for all of the buyside and sellside actors contemplating the 'What-If's' and Return on Investment (ROI) for a given Value Proposition.

Summary

Design Thinking validates the Value Proposition with would-be customers.

  • You are NOT your customer!
  • Customers are the best investors.
  • Empathize first - build receptivity, rapport and trust.

Platform Thinking creates the power of networks, and counters inward-looking behaviours.

  • Public cloud platforms enable a reduction in costs, time and risks.
  • Outsourcing software development also reduces costs, time and risks. 
  • Make use of prebuilt business logic: Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) options.

Sales Thinking engages would-be customers into the validation of the Value Proposition.

  • Would-be customers should be engaged at the earliest stages of innovation.
  • Demand Creation Selling is the proactive sales method for new tech ventures.
  • Mutual Value Discovery moves adversarial buyer-seller positions to open collaboration.

Hybrid Thinking brings Design Thinking, Platform Thinking and Sales Thinking together for the entire evolution and ongoing growth of a new tech venture.

It's NOT Design, Build, Sell: it's Design and Platform and Sell - in parallel activities.

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