Our approach to innovation is dead wrong | Diana Kander | TEDxKC



when I was 17 years old I was really at a Taekwondo I was small and I had read all these statistics about the likelihood of getting attacked as a woman so I thought that learning martial arts would make me safe I was one of the top students in the class I had a green belt and I walked around thinking I was a real badass one night after an evening shift at the restaurant where I worked I was attacked in the back parking lot one of the customers was very nice to me during my shift was there waiting for me when I clocked out as I was fumbling around with my keys trying to get into my car he came up and grabbed me by the throat this was the moment I had been training for for years and yet my arms hung limp at my sides my legs did not move they felt like they were made of concrete I didn't fight I was in shock just then one of my co-workers came out the back door and saw that something was amiss he yelled in my general direction and my assailant ran off I was incredibly lucky not to be hurt by evening but as an analytical person I was also thoroughly confused why I hadn't just deployed all of my Taekwondo training and handled the situation on my own so I thought back to my classes and how the teacher would always pair me up with somebody my size during sparring so usually a 12 year old girl and there were so many things we weren't allowed to do because they were illegal in tournaments so no punches to the face or kicks to the groin you know all the good stuff so what I realized was that I was really learning how to score points in a very controlled environment inside of a tournament I wasn't really learning how to defend myself because I had no practice against realistic opponents with realistic attack moves so the irony was that the very classes that I thought were teaching me self-defense left me unable to defend myself when it mattered most and to a there is another educational program that has a very similar ginormous fatal flaw it's the way we teach people to start new companies and launch new products since the 1980s we've had an explosion in the number of classrooms and programs that are teaching people how to start new businesses and over the same time period studies show there's been a gradual decrease in the overall number of new companies started in an actual increase in the number of companies failing and going out of business so how do we reconcile these two facts one simple solution is we're teaching people the wrong thing and it all has to do with how we're teaching them to allocate their time you see all these classes are very very similar they tell you that once you have a great new business idea the very next thing you need to do is write a comprehensive business plan a 30 page document complete with 5-year financial projections then you raise investment from friends and family or outside investors you build your product and finally when all is said and done customers will run at you with open arms all according to your plan people laughing about this in the audience because I think they understand Mike Tyson's famous quote everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face and when you try to predict the future for five years in advance in a vacuum you're going to get punched in the face so let me give you an example the marshmallow challenge is this fascinating exercise that asks teams to build the tallest freestanding structure they can out of twenty sticks of spaghetti one yard of rope one yard of tape and one marshmallow they've got 18 minutes and the marshmallow has to go on top so all different kinds of groups take the challenge engineers architects business executives MBAs even kindergarteners and consistently the MBAs do worse than every other group of participants so the average structure built is about 20 inches the MBAs are averaging 10 even kindergarteners are kicking their butts building structures two and a half times taller so how is this possible these are the very people that we're training how to plan and execute the ideas of the future and again it all has to do with how we're teaching them to allocate their time so the NBA's usually spend about the first 30 percent of the challenge planning the perfect structure allocating rolls then 60% of their time actually building it and finally with just a minute or so left they place the marshmallow on top of the structure very confidently only to watch the entire thing collapse under the weight of that marshmallow the business students wait until the very end of the exercise when they've already built the full structure to interact with the most valuable piece of the puzzle that marshmallow and they're so confident in their plan that they don't even leave themselves any time to make adjustments you know just in case they're wrong the kindergarteners have a totally different approach they start with a small and stable structure with a marshmallow already on top this takes just a few minutes and now they have lots of time left to experiment they don't believe there's one right answer to this puzzle they play to figure it out in the same time period that the nba's build just one structure the kindergarteners are able to build four or five different structures that's how they're consistently outperforming to me the lesson of this challenge is that the longer you work on your plan in a vacuum the more likely you are to fail I can actually attest to this from personal experience for all the nice things Mike said about me in the introduction he did not mention my colossal failure I had a grand vision for a software product I raised nearly half a million dollars in outside capital I cashed in every favor I ever had all because I was so confident in my business plan took me months to write it and when we finally launched the product customers just didn't behave the way we thought that they would we executed perfectly on a flawed plan and we spent more time planning and building than we did interacting with our customers to figure out if they were actually interested in buying and using our product let me tell you failure hurts but not nearly as much as regret and what I wouldn't give to have just a few more chances of launching that product so what if instead of teaching people who have a new idea for a product that they should spend the next three to six months of their lives writing this comprehensive plan to convince everyone including themselves that they're right what if instead we taught them how to spend a month experimenting like those kindergarteners and testing some of their core beliefs about how their customers are going to behave because human behavior is actually quite difficult to predict more difficult than predicting how a marshmallow is going to behave for sure some people disagree they think there are no brainers in the world that of course customers are going to want to buy this or use this product and for those people I've developed a really fun experiment with my students so I asked them to go to a public place and give away 5 $1 bills that's right they've got five chances to hand out free cash but first they have to write a short plan so who's their target customer what are they going to say to get their attention and out of five chances how many dollar bills will they give away of course everyone thinks they're going to give away 5 out of 5 it's a no-brainer right everybody wants free cash in almost every single time they're wrong everyone learns that it's not a no-brainer but giving away free cash is actually a lot harder than they thought some people are busy some people are skeptical so they learn that certain groups of people are actually more interested in their idea than others that certain lines work better than others and most importantly that their plan is just a starting place that as soon as they encounter the real world they're going to start making adjustments so they understand the value of having those real world interactions as soon as possible if we have any chance of reversing these macro trends we have to stop teaching innovators that they have to be fortune tellers who can see the future that's not realistic instead we have to teach them how to be detectives people who use facts and evidence to back up their assertions about how customers are going to behave think that people are going to rush to buy your product when it's complete then let's pre-cell 20 of them before we even start production think they're going to pay 49.95 then let's set up a simple landing page where we see how many people click the Buy button at that price point if we want to create real companies ones that survive more than just business plan tournaments we need more than hope that they're going to be successful we need proof and a reason to believe that the assertions they're making about their customers are more fact than fiction thank you you

41 Comments

  1. T E E said:

    Great talk …but why is when you click on a ted talk …99% of your feed turns into ted talks?

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  2. Dehalove said:

    Isn't it possible that entrepreneurship is decreasing and established businesses are failing due to monopolization and the prominence of titans like Walmart and McDonalds?

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  3. Practice of the Practice said:

    Thank you for sharing this message.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  4. Kathleen Gage said:

    Great job. Very clear message

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  5. Areeb Siddique Muhammad said:

    Who is she talking about? The education system right? MBA Degrees?

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  6. urban metalgray said:

    This is very similar to "The Lean Startup".

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  7. Curious112233 said:

    Another reason business are failing is too much regulations.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  8. Carlos Flores said:

    Mind-blowing! Thank you Diana Kander.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  9. Gichanasa said:

    Anyone catch the Tae Kwon Do bow at the end? Nice talk!

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  10. Shreyas Rajanna said:

    I knew this
    All of MBA is nonsense

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  11. DORSOUMA DEBONHEUR said:

    great presentation. Love it

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  12. ByAnyOtherName091 said:

    Dat a _ _ doe.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  13. Adrian Hill said:

    Brilliant!

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  14. Art Savitt said:

    Points to the need for testing, data. To develop a strong pre-intro strategy for targeting, messaging, actual product deliverability to address core cost of entry requirements.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  15. Chang Jeong said:

    Just a bad plan.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  16. Nicole Secker said:

    I´m currently part of a project teaching entrepreneurship skills to youth in Peru. This was an awesome talk.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  17. Caughtlighght said:

    This was a good one

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  18. feedthesnake said:

    nothing new here.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  19. indra prasain said:

    i appreciate and believe what you said.good speech.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  20. bodinmagosson said:

    My boss said I had only one chance. I was not allowed to take practical work until the plan was approved. If I failed once, I would be fired.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  21. Granamir71 said:

    Nice speach, terrible shoes.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  22. AntiSocial Atheist said:

    it's safe to say Donald trump has never seen this video. i don't think he has ever had a plan. He just cheats lies and cons his way through life

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  23. John Colon said:

    awesome video!!! I am MLG

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  24. Don Winfield TheLibertyGang said:

    It's amazing how much value you can provide in under 10 minutes with 3 stories to illustrate points… And a few ideas that tie them together. Excellent Presentation… I've decided to watch it daily until I've noticed changes in my thinking and actions…

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  25. uytfiuyf iuyf9867f said:

    basically scientific method, empiricism, experiment, observation vs contemplation

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  26. Sebastien said:

    Learning Taekwondo to protect yourself in real life LOL!

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  27. Wake Up Mankind said:

    Amazing. Loved ever word every thought every thing that she has shared.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  28. Collins K said:

    Practical insight delivered excellently.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  29. Troy Gardner said:

    amen! , the right approach to innovation is play (paying attention, staying present) and fail fast iterations.

    the right foundation for business is based on evidence, can you get traffic, conversions etc for a few hundred dollars no need to raise millions to build a bridge into a void.

    almost the exact the opposite of all that MBA premeditated prefunded mumbo jumbo. All the training lulls people into a false sense of confidence and complacency that business is easy, and innovation/complex necessary.

    Time AWAREness is largely a missing from most people in pursuit of the now or escapism from themselves. This is actually stunningly missing from schooling, how to manage, measure, optimize time. How to understand self, others, healthy or not including mental illness, sickness, which is actually relatively common out in the wild.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  30. Dukhyun Lee said:

    I love the way she talks. And I pity those here who confuse the word 'research & plan' with 'test'. 'test' is not about quoting from what someone else did.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  31. Chunen Tran said:

    This speech is everything I hoped for in a TED talk.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  32. boowonder888 said:

    This girl is fantastic and I am only half way through her presentation!

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  33. ultimate pirate said:

    i've learnt a lot about why you should do market research in my igcse business course :/

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  34. Ron Rom said:

    Couldn't help noticing she has a lovely bottom

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  35. John Foley said:

    Entrepreneurial entry started coming down just as cable tv started becoming popular and women entering the workforce. Can't say if either is a cause.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  36. poo bum said:

    a lot of these talks are nicely bundled and mostly uninspiring – rare to see someone talking passionately from the heart….

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  37. Creativity & stuff said:

    Thank you for sharing this awesome perspective. Author M.S.Woodley!

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  38. DS-Forex .Coaching said:

    I always thought that before starting any business project the basic thing to do is called Market Research.
    But, then, perhaps I'm the oldschool guy…

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  39. Christopher McMurray said:

    This bitch is stupid

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  40. Gacon1210 said:

    That's true, the reason MBA took a lot of time for planning because it's the important part for higher chance to get funding from the investors. The investors are not gonna give you money for experiment!

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  41. humanyoda said:

    I think there are situations when determining the potential demand for a product is very problematic before the product is available in a substantial form. Is that incorrect thinking?

    May 17, 2019
    Reply

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