A recent survey of executives revealed that many believe that innovation efforts inside their companies have less than a 50% chance of succeeding. Adam Richardson, of frog design, argues this failure rate is due to a lack of understanding about the fit between a company, its strategy, and the market. 

In his book, Richardson proposes a class of problems, called X problems whose solutions are unclear, but more importantly whose problem statement is also unclear. Finding a solution to this X problem creates innovative change.

Richardson provides a set of questions that startups and enterprises alike should ask themselves before embarking on a new project, pivot or tiger team effort.

  • What central insights are driving innovation efforts and the future of your company? 
  • What is the strategy of your company in thirty words or fewer? 
  • Do you have a clear picture of the boundaries of your business? 
  • Do you have a deep understanding of your customers and their needs, beyond market statistics and segmentation models? Do you spend much time with customers? 
  • Do you have a clear idea of who your competitors are? Do you know which disruptive threats you should be keeping an eye on? 
  • Does your organization’s innovation portfolio include both long-term big bets and near-term small ones?