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The SWAT Team That Can Validate New Business Ideas Inside Your Organization

Kavi Guppta

Your organization is hungry to explore and validate new business ideas, but who should be responsible for the journey? In this post we take a quick look at the agile and specialized SWAT Team that can take an idea to an opportunity to potential working solution. Are these people already in your organization? Start recruiting! 

This is an expanded post from a Strategyzer Webinar broadcast on How To Validate Business Ideas.

When we think of a SWAT team we picture a group of highly specialized law enforcement personnel who are responsible for specific scenarios on the job. We can borrow that same approach--a group of specialized people--to be responsible for the search and validation of new business ideas inside your organization.

If you’re planning on kicking-off an 8-12 week agile program to validate a new business idea inside your company, you’ll want to put together a nimble and specialized team to generate support; carry a vision; and do the groundwork. Who should those people be?

Let’s take a quick look at the types of people that can be in your company SWAT team, and also talk about the skills or disciplines they will need to have.

1. A senior leader to carry the vision and guide the team.

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Your team will need involvement from a senior leader; not just as a sponsor, but also as someone who gets out of the building to talk to customers. This senior leader will help to carry the vision as the team evolves the ideas into experiments and learnings from the evidence gathered. We’ve written about this type of leader before. We call him the Chief Entrepreneur--someone who can lead the future of the company alongside leadership who are tasked with running the existing business.

That’s one aspect of it. But the senior leader will also be the bridge between other leadership in the organization for communicating progress, and seeking out tools, resources, and budget for the SWAT team. Which will be important in our next point.

2. Board members and executive backing.

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Your SWAT team will need the support of board members, executives, and other leaders or management roles to make sure the team’s mission can survive and thrive in the company. The entire corporation has to commit to the SWAT team and its responsibility in validating new business ideas. That’s going to require skills, budget, resources, and more. If it’s not accepted by the leadership, your SWAT team won’t be seen as a serious approach to exploring the future of the organization.

3. Hands-on doers: people who do the important ground work.

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Lastly, you will need team members who can get their hands dirty and do the groundwork. Seniors leadership will be involved, but will be limited in their time to contribute in all areas of the team. So you’re going to need people who can organize customer surveys; brainstorm customer experiments; conduct customer experiments to find evidence and test underlying assumptions. Your hands-on doers are curious about setting up and using new IT tools to do experimentation. That could mean standing up landing pages or call-to-action experiments (an online page with a value proposition where prospects can sign up if interested). They’ll be agile people who can quickly test and validate hypotheses, and will require little to no assistance from existing departments like IT in your organization (your IT team will be busy supporting the existing business to participate in these tasks).

You won’t necessarily need someone specific from finance or marketing or other areas on your time. At this stage, you’ll simply want T-shaped people who are very good at one thing (like setting up landing pages or monitoring Google Analytics) to help you design experiments. This is a skill that’s usually found in startups, but rarely in large companies outside of people who might be hired to execute this kind of work within areas of the existing business.

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