This article, long by necessity, explains how Newcreate can be put into practice at work and in your personal life, with the aim of transcending the mundane, creating the new, and enriching the world, or a particular piece of it, with value, meaning and joy.
The only valid test of an idea, concept, or theory is what it enables you to do.
Matt Taylor, co-originator of DesignShop | View bio
My original intention was to create two articles: one for workplace creators of the new (mainly innovation professionals and design thinking practitioners) and one for people wishing to embark on a create-the-new project in their personal lives, such as:
Establishing a YouTube channel.
Launching a campaign to reopen a local train station or railway line.
Setting up a community radio station.
Revitalising a struggling community.
Starting a business or nonprofit organisation.
As the writing work progressed, the considerable overlap between the two pieces became apparent, and I decided to create a single article addressing professionals and non-professionals together. This is the result. Sections that may not be relevant to non-professionals have been flagged.
I have aimed for the simplicity on the other side of complexity in this article and throughout the Newcreate website. Please let me know of any instances where I have missed the mark.
I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.
The Newcreate path to successful accomplishment
A Newcreate project starts with a desire or need to bring something new into being and ends with the value generation potential of the new creation fully realised.
Throughout this work, attention is focused on the value, meaning and joy that will be experienced by the various beneficiaries when the fully formed creation is introduced to the world.
Form a team
If you are a professional creator of the new, it is highly likely that you are already a member of a team, in which case you might want to skip to the next section. Before doing so, consider whether you have the right team for the project. You might also want to think about forming an extended team to work on aspects of the project requiring input from a more diverse group of stakeholders.
In case you do need to form a team, here are some of the questions you may need to answer:
What areas of expertise are needed? Where are the gaps that need to be filled (e.g. social media, project management, financial management)?
Based on the answers to the first item, what specific roles are required? What responsibilities accompany each role?
Who might fill the identified roles? Beyond your network, how might you attract the talent that’s needed?
How will decisions be made?
How will you communicate, and how will you manage workflow?
How will you handle disagreements and resolve conflicts?
Will you need a team coach or someone to facilitate critical meetings?
Non-professionals should note that create-the-new projects call for three kinds of work: creating alone, creating together and helping others create, in a role such as facilitator, coach, thinking partner or project team leader. I developed this website, and Newcreate itself, without assistance, but I will need to form a core team and perhaps even an extended team later this year when it’s time to carry out uptake work and start to realise the value generation potential of Newcreate.
For professional and non-professional creators of the new, I recommend the book You don’t have to do it alone.
Dick and Emily Axelrod hosted a training workshop relating to The Conference Model in which I participated. Julie Beedon was one of my colleagues in a collective named Partners in Whole System Transformation (no longer in existence). I know Jake Jacobs as the originator of Real Time Strategic Change, an approach that formed part of my consulting repertoire during the 1990s and early 2000s. Their individual and collective mastery in the areas of teamwork, co-creation and multi-stakeholder collaboration is unsurpassed.
You Don’t Have to Do It Alone: How to Involve Others to Get Things Done, by Richard H. (Dick) Axelrod, Emily M. Axelrod, Julie Beedon and Robert W. (Jake) Jacobs, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2004When you are doing something big, intentional design and high involvement strategies lead to great results. Dick, Emily, Julie, and Jake’s book gives us practical guidance on how to get such results. These ideas can be used equally by project managers, line managers, union leaders, community organizers, and even by family members.
Jan Mears, Human Resources Director, Global Supply Chain, Kraft Foods
When Newcreate is employed in an organisational setting, Readiness work enables project team members to prime themselves for the showing up of a potent idea by becoming immersed in the demands and dynamics of the project and having a felt sense of the new reality in which the intended value will be experienced by the specified beneficiaries.
If I were a maker of maxims, I would make it a maxim never to undertake an intervention to create a desired change unless and until you have thoroughly understood what you are seeking to intervene in. And not in the abstract but in all its glorious, rich, idiosyncratic detail.
And not from the outside by way of assigning things to predetermined kinds or categories, no matter how detailed and “multidimensional,” but from the inside, making the succession of patterns and sequences you observe fully intelligible, so that you can see why what you are observing could hardly have turned out otherwise.
James Wilk, A World of Questions & Answers—Part VIII, in Change on Substack
The ideal scenario is one in which most, if not all, of the Readiness work is undertaken in a single session with all participants in the room (i.e. not participating via Zoom or Teams).
Readiness work has 13 dimensions, which are listed below. Sequencing will vary from project to project. Some dimensions may not apply to your particular project. Some additional dimensions may be called for (please tell me about them). And some will need to be reworked further along the path as new insights and understandings emerge.
- Understand the brief.
- Expose and challenge any assumptions present in the brief.
- Know the backstory and explore the wider context.
- Establish a clear line of sight.
- Get clear about your motive.
- Specify purpose and outcomes.
- Specify beneficiary value.
- Agree evidence of successful completion.
- Identify the non-negotiables.
- Identify genuine constraints to accomplishment.
- Expose and eliminate phantom constraints.
- Determine the critical success factors.
- Compile an inventory of assets.
Deployment of the power of Imagination (creative, not synthetic) enables Newcreators to foresee, in the immediate or more distant future, a possibility for enriching the world or a particular piece of it with value, meaning and joy, and doing this in a particular way.
The imagined scenario is encapsulated in a vision of realised potential, animating the value specification produced as part of the earlier Readiness work.
This vision of realised potential is a depiction — an actual picture accompanied by a vivid and compelling synopsis — of how the world will look, sound and feel when the new creation exists in its finished state (even though we do not yet know what form it will take) and when its value generation potential is being realised without constraint.
The envisioned scenario portrays the broadest context in which the business or organisation exists, and it represents a desired present, not a desired future.
Work carried out up to this point should be sufficient for the Newcreators to summon from their imaginations an idea for a new creation possessing the potential to generate the imagined value, meaning and joy for customers or users and other beneficiaries.
The idea may appear as a mental image, rough sketch, 3D model, symbol or physical feeling, or in some other non-verbal form.
The team’s ideas are captured, discussed and enhanced by means of the Newcreate idea capture method.
The power of Conceptualisation enables Newcreators to elaborate the embryonic idea into a fully formed concept and shepherd its progress from the unmanifest realm of possibility to the manifest realm of actuality. The next image shows this continuous progression.
I recommend deploying the Idea-to-Concept Worksheet pictured below, using A4 or A3 paper.
How to use the Idea-to-Concept Worksheet
- Working alone, each team member elaborates the raw idea, capturing salient points on an Idea-to-Concept Worksheet. The raw idea is now an embryonic concept.
- People form pairs.
- Person A presents his or her concept to Person B.
- They discuss how to refine A’s concept.
- B presents his or her concept to A.
- They discuss how to refine B’s concept.
- A and B integrate their concepts.
- Each pair presents their integrated concept to the rest of the team,
- A discussion takes place and the integrated concepts are combined into a single concept.
- The final concept is refined. The team commits to taking it forward.
The five tests: Is the proposed or embryonic creation desirable, feasible, viable, potent and fitting?
The global innovation firm IDEO originated the three lenses concept represented by the orange discs. The lenses are labelled Desirability (Will people want it?), Feasibility (Can we make it and market it?) and Viability (Do we have a sustainable business model?).
I have added a two further items: Potency (Does it display the potential to generate extensive or exceptional value?) and Fitting (Does it meet the design specification?).
I refer to the five items as tests rather than lenses. Tests should be conducted at key points in the create-the-new process to ensure that further investment of talent, time, money etc. is justified, and to advance the pursuit of greatness.
Business model design
According to Alex Osterwalder, originator of the widely-used business model canvas (see Wikipedia) and founder of Strategyzer, a business model “describes how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value”.
I have two issues with this definition. First, ‘value’ is being used in two ways: as experienced value that is somehow embodied in the product or service and delivered to the customer or user, and as economic value (income, revenue) that the organisation receives as payment for the delivered value.
Second, value is not embodied in the value generator (product, service or whatever) and delivered as if by Deliveroo. It is co-created when the beneficiary (e.g. consumer or user) interacts with it. To explore this further, see Wikipedia: Service-dominant logic and Evolving to a New Dominant Logic for Marketing (pdf; 18 pages) by Stephen L. Vargo and Robert F. Lusch. You can also read more elsewhere on this website: What is value and how is it generated?
The business model goes a long way towards answering one of the questions posed in the previous image: Is the concept viable?
Although I disagree with Alex Osterwalder’s business model definition, I highly recommend his business model canvas, which appears below. Others have made modifications in an effort to improve it, but the original version prevails.
The left side of the canvas focuses on the business or organisation, and the right side focuses on the customer or user. The value proposition (more about this is in a moment) is what links the left and right sides.
The nine areas of the business model canvas
See also How To: Business Model Canvas Explained, by Christopher Bartlett, on Sheda website
Customer Segments For whom are we creating value? Who are our most important customers?
Channels Through which Channels do our Customer Segments want to be reached? How are we reaching them now? How are our Channels integrated? Which ones work best? Which ones are the most cost-efficient? How are we integrating them with customer routines? Channel phases: Awareness, Evaluation, Purchase, Delivery, After-sales.
Customer Relationships What type of relationship does each of our Customer Segnents expect us to establish and maintain with them? Which ones have we established? How are they integrated with the rest of our business model? How costly are they? Examples: Personal assistance, dedicated personal assistance, self-service, automated services, communities, co-creation.
Revenue Streams For what value are our customers really willing to pay? For what do they currently pay? How are they currently paying? How would they prefer to pay? How much does each Revenue Stream contribute to overall revenues? Types: asset sale, usage fee, subscription fees, lending/renting/leasing, brokerage fees, advertising. Fixed pricing: list price, product-feature dependent, customer segment dependent, volume dependent. Dynamic pricing: negotiation/bargaining, yield management, real-time market.
Value Propositions What value do we deliver to the customer? Which of our customers’ problems are we helping to solve? What bundles of products and services are we offering to each Customer Segment? Which customer needs are we satisfying?
Key Activities What Key Activities do our Value Propositions require? Our distribution channels? Customer Relationships? Revenue Streams?
Key Resources What Key Resources do our Value Propositions require? Our Distribution Channels? Customer Relationships? Revenue Streams? Types of resources: physical, intellectual (brand patents, copyrights), human, financial.
Key Partners Who are our Key Partners? Who are our key suppliers? Which Key Resources are we acquiring from partners? Which Key Activities do partners perform?
Cost Structure What are the most important costs inherent in our business model? Which Key Resources are most expensive? Which Key Activities are most expensive? Is your business model more cost driven or value driven? Sample characteristics: fixed costs, variable costs, economies of scale, economies of scope.
The V-Spec value specification instrument shown below includes wider society and the planet. The project team takes into account the value requirements — particularly the preservation of existing value — of these beneficiary groups as they seek to produce a value generator (product, service, event, video, song etc.) that is viable and therefore sustainable.
Read more about the ‘Specify beneficiary value’ part of Readiness work
Proof of concept
Your new creation may work in theory, but does it work in practice? Sooner or later this will need to be demonstrated, and the sooner the better.
Depending on the kind of value generator you are creating, proof of concept work may not be required, or it may occur as part of a pretotype or prototype evaluation.
The value proposition describes the value your new creation will generate, or the anti-value generation it will arrest, for specific beneficiary groups such as customers or users. This is a continuation of the Specify beneficiary value dimension of Readiness work mentioned earlier.
A value proposition in marketing is a concise statement of the benefits that a company is delivering to customers who buy its products or services. It serves as a declaration of intent, both inside the company and in the marketplace. The term value proposition is believed to have first appeared in a McKinsey & Co. industry research paper in 1988, which defined it as “a clear, simple statement of the benefits, both tangible and intangible, that the company will provide, along with the approximate price it will charge each customer segment for those benefits.”
Source: Investopedia (view) | Source of citation: Lanning, Michael J., and Edward G. Michaels. “A business is a value delivery system.” McKinsey staff paper No. 41. July, 1988
Numerous tools are available to help you craft a value proposition. One of them is the Value Proposition Canvas, created by Alex Osterwalder and his Strategyzer colleagues. Here it is:
- Gains represent the value the customer wishes to experience.
- Pains represent the anti-value the customer wishes to avoid.
You can download a large-format Value Proposition Canvas from the Strategyzer website (pdf; sign-up required).
A detailed plan is not required. You need only think about the stepping stones and what needs to happen next. The ground will shift as the project progresses. Unforeseen obstacles and opportunities will almost certainly arise. The purpose of the plan is to help you get to the next plan, and this is why I recommend a planning method named backcasting.
Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.
The backcasting process is simple, but it does call for a fertile imagination. In the example illustrated below, a social entrepreneur has a burning desire to create a UK-wide network of pop-up community cafes. That is the end state, over on the right. She works backwards from there, one stepping stone at a time, asking What preceding stepping stone made this possible? until she arrives back at the present moment. She is now aware of the next stepping stone and can take whatever action is needed to reach it.
Backcasting, a term first coined by John B. Robinson in 1982, involves establishing the description of a very definite and very specific future situation. It then involves an imaginary moving backwards in time, step-by-step, in as many stages as are considered necessary, from the future to the present to reveal the mechanism through which that particular specified future could be attained from the present.
The project team reviews and revises the plan as each stepping stone is reached. The envisioned end state may very well change as the project progresses. The team convenes a RAP (Review, Assess, Plan) session at weekly, fortnightly or monthly intervals, depending on the nature of the project, the number of moving parts and the speed at which the work is progressing. Team members remain mindful that the plan is a product of the imagination and do not treat it as a roadmap with fixed staging posts.
Non-professional projects will not necessarily include this work.
A pretotype (pre-prototype) is a drawing, three dimensional model, role play, simulation, storyboard or other device that enables the project team to bring the concept into the physical world, even if it’s in a very crude form. This is an essential part of the create-the-new process. The concept can now be shared with others, both inside and outside the enterprise. Their feedback will enable the team to enhance and refine the embryonic creation as it progresses through the various development cycles.
Visit the Pretotyping blog created by Alberto Savoia, an engineering director and innovation agitator at Google
Prototype and pilot
Non-professional projects will not necessarily include this work.
The pretotype is developed into a prototype, which is piloted in the real world.
A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process.
Prototypes explore different aspects of an intended design:
- A proof-of-principle prototype serves to verify some key functional aspects of the intended design, but usually does not have all the functionality of the final product.
- A working prototype represents all or nearly all of the functionality of the final product.
- A visual prototype represents the size and appearance, but not the functionality, of the intended design. A form study prototype is a preliminary type of visual prototype in which the geometric features of a design are emphasized, with less concern for color, texture, or other aspects of the final appearance.
- A user experience prototype represents enough of the appearance and function of the product that it can be used for user research.
- A functional prototype captures both function and appearance of the intended design, though it may be created with different techniques and even different scale from final design.
- A paper prototype is a printed or hand-drawn representation of the user interface of a software product. Such prototypes are commonly used for early testing of a software design, and can be part of a software walkthrough to confirm design decisions before more costly levels of design effort are expended
Building the full design is often expensive and can be time-consuming, especially when repeated several times—building the full design, figuring out what the problems are and how to solve them, then building another full design. As an alternative, rapid prototyping or rapid application development techniques are used for the initial prototypes, which implement part, but not all, of the complete design. This allows designers and manufacturers to rapidly and inexpensively test the parts of the design that are most likely to have problems, solve those problems, and then build the full design.
How to Prototype a New Business, on IDEO U website
Pilot projects–making innovations and new concepts fly, by Shane Zbrodoff, on Project Management Institute website
Minimum viable product
The purpose of a minimum viable product (MVP) is to test your assumptions.
Ask: “What needs to be true for this idea to work?” and seek evidence that you’re on the right path
You may need to create two or more MVPs, with each testing a particular assumption or cluster of assumptions.
A minimum viable product has just enough core features to effectively deploy the product, and no more. Developers typically deploy the product to a subset of possible customers—such as early adopters thought to be more forgiving, more likely to give feedback, and able to grasp a product vision from an early prototype or marketing information. This strategy targets avoiding building products that customers do not want and seek to maximize information about the customer with the least money spent. The technique falls under the Lean Startup methodology as MVPs aim to test business hypotheses, and validated learning is one of the five principles of the Lean Startup method.
Source: Wikipedia—Minimum viable product.
Read more about minimum viable products
Ever since Eric Reis published his bestselling book, The Lean Startup, the idea of a minimum viable product (MVP) has captured the imagination of entrepreneurs and product developers everywhere. The idea of testing products faster and cheaper has an intuitive logic that simply can’t be denied.
Yet what is often missed is that a minimum viable product isn’t merely a stripped down version of a prototype. It is a method to test assumptions and that’s something very different. A single product often has multiple MVPs, because any product development effort is based on multiple assumptions.
Developing an MVP isn’t just about moving faster and cheaper, but also minimizing risk. In order to test assumptions, you first need to identify them and that’s a soul searching process. You have to take a hard look at what you believe, why you believe it and how those ideas can be evaluated. Essentially, MVP’s work because they force you to do the hard thinking early.
Greg Satell, Here’s What Most People Get Wrong About Minimum Viable Products, on DigitalTonto website
A Minimum Viable Product Is Not a Product, It’s a Process, by Jim Brikman
The fully formed creation is now ready to be introduced to the world at large.
The new product is launched.
The community radio station airs its first show.
The shop opens for business.
You need to be aware that there is a world of difference between a pilot and full-scale introduction. A successful pilot does not guarantee a successful launch. Erecting a shed in your garden is nothing like building a house. Minding a child does not prepare you for being a parent.
I encourage you to read the academic research paper, Scaling – from “reaching many” to sustainable systems change at scale: A critical shift in mind set, by L. Woltering, K. Fehlenberg, B. Gerard, J. Ubels, and L. Cooley, on Elsevier website (no paywall).
Everyone wants to transition from pilot to scale, but very few actually achieve it.
Uptake: what is it and how can it be fostered?
Uptake of new products and services is achieved through distribution channels (retail, wholesale, distributor, franchising, ecommerce, TV shopping etc.) and by marketing activities using media and methods selected from those listed below.
Uptake The act of using, participating in, adopting, or taking advantage of an available product, service, opportunity, etc.
• Newspapers (national, regional, local)
• Magazines (consumer, professional)
• TV (terrestrial, satellite, cable, Internet)
• Radio (analogue, digital)
• Out of home (posters etc.)
• Internet (e.g. Google Ads)
• Search advertising (Pay Per Click)
• Directories and yearbooks (paid-for ads)
Direct mail (via postal system)
Marketing collateral (brochures etc)
Newsletters and email marketing
Text (SMS) marketing
Social media posts (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter)
Book authoring and publishing
Seminars and workshops
Partner and affiliate marketing
Promotional and ambient media
Exhibitions and trade fairs
Merchandising and display
Embedding new ways of working
The approach to be taken when introducing and embedding new ways of working must be considered very carefully.
Geoff Marlow, who helps business leaders create cultures of innovation, agility and adaptiveness, reports that research conducted by Joan Lancourt, Ed Nevis and Helen Vassallo enabled them to identify seven channels through which people pick up various clues, cues, signs and signals, and consequently infer the culture of the organisation that employs them. The research is discussed in Lancourt, Nevis and Vassallo’s book, Intentional Revolutions: A Seven-Point Strategy for Transforming Organizations (1996)
The seven channels are summarised below, and some can be deployed when seeking to embed new ways of working.
Visit Geoff Marlow’s website | Subscribe to his Substack
- Persuasive communication. This is where “a communicator attempts to introduce a change in the belief, attitude, or behaviour of others via messages that recipients receive with a degree of free choice”.
- Participation. “Involvement in defining and shaping the future, allowing for the generation of good ideas and encouraging support and commitment for implementation”.
- Role modelling. The “observation of social cues that people are often unaware of observing” in the attitudes and behaviours of influential individuals.
- Expectancy. The most subtle of the seven channels, “Expectancy is often referred to as the inducement of self-fulfilling prophecies, in which expected behaviour becomes a reality”.
- Structural Rearrangement. A ‘go to’ lever that senior executives have instinctively grabbed when attempting organisational change. It includes various forms of “altering work design, organisational structure, or core processes” such as restructuring, reorganisation, written rules, processes, procedures, policies, etc.
- Extrinsic Rewards. Another traditional change lever, often pulled without sufficient consideration of likely adverse side effects, “based on the assumption that the behaviour will not be maintained without extrinsic reinforcement”.
- Coercion. Any practice “based on the assumption that people will comply because they see themselves as unable to leave the field in which the power is applied”.
Source: Lancourt, Nevis and Vassallo, cited by Geoff Marlow in his weekly Innovation Insights publication, 22 January 2023 | Register here (free)
I do not know Geoff but his credentials are impeccable and his insights invaluable.
Whenever possible, consider the uptake strategy while developing the original concept.If no attention is paid to future uptake when conducting the five tests part of conceptualisation work, there is a risk that the marketing budget will need to be so great that the product or service is not commercially viable, or that there is no feasible route to market, or that some other unforeseen but perhaps foreseeable scenario will bring the project to a premature conclusion.
There may be a gap in the market, but is there a market in the gap?
Enhancement cyclesOnce the creation has been taken up by customers, users or other beneficiaries, the Newcreators or downstream specialists — in marketing, sales, user experience, innovation, or external relations, for example — seek to realise value generation potential by:
Ensuring that everyone who might benefit from the creation is able to do so (= widespread propagation).
Improving the customer or user experience by halting the generation of anti-value and adding features or making modifications in order to increase value generation potential (= zero or minimum pain, maximum gain).
In each of these cases, the Newcreators or downstream specialists will undertake projects that move through a complete create-the-new cycle, from Imagination and Conceptualisation to Materialisation and Realisation, as illustrated here:
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