Impact Stories by Deloitte Consulting

One Young World: fail fast, learn faster

‘Design Your Experiment’-workshop at the One Young World Summit in Manchester

In today’s complex environment, experiments allow us to limit uncertainty, learn quickly and de-risk innovation. In September 2022, colleagues from the Customer Strategy & Design team hosted an Innovation workshop on behalf of Deloitte Digital Netherlands during the One Young World Summit in Manchester, UK.

This story was written by Shaina Krishnadath en Sarah Toussaint, who were facilitators during the workshop at the One Young World Summit.

The objective of the workshop was to help young leaders test their ideas at an early stage in order to learn quickly, de-risk innovations, and maximize success rates to have a positive impact on our planet and societies.

Background: What is the One Young World Summit?

The Annual One Young World Summit brings together 2,000+ of the brightest young leaders from every country and sector, working to accelerate social impact both in-person and digitally. Delegates from 190+ countries are counselled by influential political, business, and humanitarian leaders such as Justin Trudeau, Paul Polman and Meghan Markle, and many others to harness the knowledge and skills needed for being impactful change makers. Delegates participate in four transformative days of speeches, panels, networking, and workshops. They can also apply to give keynote speeches, sharing a platform with global leaders with the world’s media in attendance. Delegates can challenge world leaders, engage with them, and be mentored by expert industry influencers while making lasting connections.
Our colleagues Sarah Toussaint and Shaina Krishnadath were given the opportunity to facilitate workshops on experimentation to help young leaders test their ideas, allowing them to learn quickly and maximize success rates.

Workshop approach

Our key objective for the workshop at OYW was to support 35 delegates to act based on all the inspiration, connections, and ideas they get during the summit. We did this by guiding them to understand which risky assumptions are part of their idea and how they can address them with experiments, while also nurturing a mindset where getting your ideas out in the world quickly is valuable (and not scary!) and will lead to better outcomes. We facilitated a process in which the delegates took their own ideas, and defined their riskiest assumptions, by thinking about what needed to be true for the idea to be realized in 1-3 years. These assumptions were then prioritized, based on the level of uncertainty and immediacy of impact. Prioritizing your assumptions gives insight into which experiments you should do first.

In the last part of the workshop, the delegates thought of an experiment they could set up when they get back home, based on our four-step approach for creating experiments. The workshop was well received. Delegates took home the worksheets we provided them, to set up the experiments at home and explain the process to their colleagues or co-founders. They did not only work on ideas they already had, some of them also came up with something they wanted to test or worked on an impactful idea together. The creative guidance we gave them to set up distinct types of experiments was praised, and it helped them to take action.

Why is experimentation important?

Taking an experimental approach to developing new products, services and experiences is crucial for the success of innovations. By experimentation, innovators can gain a better understanding of their target customer, their contact and behavior, and gather real-life proof that their idea works. In today’s complex environment where customer behavior and dynamics are constantly evolving, experiments allow us to limit uncertainty, learn quickly and de-risk innovation.

Now, you may ask yourself, what do we mean by experimentation? Experimentation is simply setting up a method to test your ideas. They can come in different forms and vary in level of fidelity; e.g., from low fidelity sketches to high fidelity close-to-end-products. This also implies that different experiments can work for your idea. The key is to test as early as possible, to fail fast and learn faster. 

"When creating new products and services, affordable lessons are more attractive than expensive failures."

By testing as early as possible, we can understand the value of an idea and whether customers or users have a demand for it or not. Setting up a small experiment, such as a sketch of an idea and asking the target audience what they like or dislike about it can help identify blind spots and risks in an early stage. It also provides an opportunity to learn quickly, before you invest your time and money in the idea. This also means that we should quickly discard ideas that flop and iteratively refine ideas that show promise. Then when it is time to launch, your probability of success is 1000 times higher.

"The most successful experiments are those that look and feel as real as possible, because often what people say and do are two different things."

By making experiments look and feel as real as possible, we can really understand what users think of an idea or concept. If they are close to experiencing the real product, we can understand how they behave and which elements of the idea they love and which elements need further improving. One of the methods that we use is the Wizard of Oz method where one person – the Tester – is running the face-to face experiment with the user, while a second person – the Wizard – is controlling the responses sent to the user. In one of Deloitte’s projects, we created a social robot for elderly people, the user was interacting with the robot while behind-the-scenes, in another room, another person was responding as the robot to the user. This allowed the team to understand how the user would interact with the robot without already developing the robot itself.

What is the formula for a winning proposition?

In our innovation practice, we apply the four lenses of innovation to the development of new ideas. Working between these lenses is crucial for success.

1.      Desirability: Is there demand for this proposition? We research if the idea meets real needs of users and addresses actual behavior, what the shaping trends are, and which features should be included in the concept.

2.      Feasibility: Can we build and organise it? The technical and operational efforts are assessed, including data availability, legal and regulatory considerations and the required capabilities and assets.

3.      Viability: Is it worth it? We create an overview of the competitive landscape, the benefit and commercial case and assess the long-term potential of the proposition.

4.      Sustainability: What are the consequences of the proposition? Dive into the positive impact of the proposition on UN's Sustainable Development Goals, consider the ecological costs and carbon impact of the business model and the use of (non-)renewable resources.

We enjoyed facilitating a workshop to a group of such ambitious, diverse, and well-meaning young leaders. The ideas to make an impact that matters ranged from health supplements for young people to beach cleanups, dashboarding for sustainable supply chains and sustainability education platforms, and were all equally inspiring.

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