Chapter TwoDesign with Humility

After the social innovator has found her purpose point, the next phase is designing the product or service, moving from concept into action. Many founders feel a great sense of urgency to get up and running, and they are too hurried in launching and then give up too soon if the service or product doesn't take off right away. Another key problem in this phase is that once they've created a business plan, they follow the plan too rigidly, mistaking what should be only a rough guide for a fully worked-out business model. A third common mistake is believing that they have to have all the answers and should be able to design their product or service on their own or with only minimal input from others.

The myth of the brilliant founder who comes up with a ground-breaking new solution and then by ingenuity and sheer force of will builds a thriving organization all alone has done in many promising enterprises and stunted the growth of many others, leading them to hang on to flawed ideas too long and miss opportunities to improve their product and model.

As successful serial entrepreneur and leading expert on entrepreneurship Steve Blank wrote in his influential article “Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything,” “Business plans rarely survive first contact with customers…Start-ups are not smaller versions of large companies. They do not unfold in accordance with master plans. The ones that ultimately succeed go quickly from failure to failure, all the ...

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