27 Questions to ask about an innovation …

Been The First Mile Mile  by Scott Anthony … a practical book re: how to ID practical innovations and launch them.

Anthony characterizes an innovation as having a combination of a deep customer need, a compelling solution, and a powerful economic model.

He argues that the first 2 items – a deep need and a compelling solution – are often overstated … and that the 3rd – the economic model – is often completely ignored.

So, as everybody know, most innovations fail in the marketplace.

To increase the odds of a innovation’s success (think new product or start-up company) he proposes a a process that borrows from the classical scientific method, discovery driven planning and the trendy “lean start-ups”.

Anthony acronyms his process DEFT: document, evaluate, focus, (test & adjust)





The first step in the DEFT process is to document the essence of an initiative … not voluminously, but insightfully … with an eye to separating facts from assumptions … and then concentrating on the assumptions that are least certain and most impactful.

Specifically, Anthony offers up 27 specific questions to answer when documenting an innovation …



27 Innovation Questions



1. Who is the customer (or customers, if it is a multi-sided business like a media business that attracts an audience of consumers and then sells advertising to companies hoping to reach those consumers)?

2. What job is the customer struggling to get done?

3. What suggests that the job is important and unsatisfied?


4. Who else is involved in the decision to purchase and use an offering?

5. What are their jobs to be done?

6. Why will they support the idea?


7. What is the essence of the idea?

8. How will the idea ease the pain of the customers and key stakeholders?

9. How does it compare with other ways the customers could get the job done?

10. What makes it different and better?

11. What will it look and feel like?


12. What are the most likely revenue streams?

13. What is the cost of earning those revenues?

14. What infrastructure will be required? 15. What capital expenditures are required?


16. What is the foothold market where you will start?

17. What is the plan to expand from the foothold?

18. Which competitive solutions are you most worried about? How will you beat them? How might you get them to ignore you?


19. What are the key activities involved in the opportunity?

20. Who is doing what?

21. What will you do?

22. What partnerships will you need to form?

23. What will you need to acquire? THE TEAM 24. Who is on the team?

25. What have they done in the past that suggests that they have any chance of succeeding?


26. How much money is required to execute the plan?

27. How long will it take to earn a return on that money?

* * * * *

Source: Anthony, Scott D. (2014-04-01). The First Mile: A Launch Manual for Getting Great Ideas into the Market, Harvard Business Review Press


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