Building your capacity and capability to deliver your own virtual [   ] incubators


4 actions to 10x better ideas


Before you're a startup, you're just an idea. As 'Sam Altman said "most really big companies start with something fundamentally new (one acceptable definition of new is 10x better" 


Rarely does any successful idea come from a singular experience. It's only when you start connecting the dots that you realise how different experiences have shaped your current idea. There are (at least) 4 things you could do to increase the chances and be more intentional in arriving at the 10x better idea a) zoom into your failures b) brainstorm questions, not solutions c) experience a model outside of your context, and d) create constraints for yourself.


Zoom in to your failures: I ran a workshop/conference for entrepreneurs. We paid for their flights, accommodation, conference space, which came to around: $4,000+ for a 5 day experience. They rated their experience as 3.5 out of 4 in terms of impact on them. When I followed up 2 months later with each of the delegates in terms of actual changes they've made (the output metric), I found all had failed. Thus for all my glorious workshop facilitation and conference experience creation, I too failed, to deliver any significant change in the results of participants. I've learned two valuable lessons 1) we're all in the business of change, so why don't we lead with change first, solutions second  2) facilitation isn't what these early stage entrepreneurs needed most, they needed someone who can act as their co-founder. 


Brainstorm questions, not solutions:  The goal being to understand your problem space from a multitude of perspectives, to think more creatively and freely, and not be constrained by solutions for there is no dumb question. Some of the questions we asked: Why is 80%+ of training ineffective in that it does not 'stick' in delegates minds and change their day to day activity at work? Why do 70% of people start e-learning courses but never complete them, How do you  support geographically dispersed teams, without taking them away from their core jobs? What can we take away the implementation success of Y-combinators (incubators focused on external startups) of this world? 


Look at successful examples outside your context: I visited a school which was living and breathing project based learning. High Tech High in San Diego, is a school famed for designing and delivering project based learning in every aspect of education, from training teachers to delivering lessons. Having spent some time observing and listening to a teacher, I learned what is good project based learning learning, why failure must be a genuine option of real world learning, output has to be public, the need to integrate learning through the jobs-to-done of students to it brings real meaning to them, and crucially the importance of delivering an learning experience that combines knowledge, skills, mindsets, networks and resources.  


Leverage the constraints: The individuals and teams that needed support were dispersed geographically. Bringing them together would be too costly, and there is a high opportunity cost of their time. Rather than just say I want to deliver a low-cost model, I set the constraint of designing a model of  training at less than $1,000 per person, to a 100+ people, in 10+ countries? 


Thus the idea of a virtual incubator was born, one that combined project based learning (like High Tech High), was over a period of time (like incubators), low-cost (virtually), which executed as well as advised (like co-founders).