Team New Zealand is small, remote, and has ample but finite resources. We face numerous challenges as we transition towards an all-inclusive and sustainable economy. These include distance from other markets, our small population, economic inequality, high cost of living, and more.
In order to make this transition successfully, we need to be as effective and efficient as possible in allocating resources for the creation of new products, commercial services, and social services. We already allocate our resources in the form of:
But in order to ensure the efficient use of those resources, these new products and services must solve a real problem and must generate returns in the form of:
To achieve this, we must avoid wasting resources on Research and Development that has already been done: we must not “reinvent the wheel”. Instead we must “stand on the shoulders of giants” by first learning all that can be known about each problem and how it has been solved before.
By doing these things, we will increase the effectiveness of our Innovation, and as a result, increase our quality of life - the only metric that matters.
There is a clear, established, proven, and repeatable Process for achieving our common goals. By signing this Charter, you pledge to require this process be followed for each and every Idea that is presented to you for Investment. The steps of this process are described as “The Four Gates” because each one is a potential end (or pivot) point for each idea processed. The remainder of the charter is written in the first person in order to emphasise a personal commitment to shared ideals.
I pledge not to charge money for my professional services to a client without first checking that it has passed The Four Gates, unless it is to provide guidance and services to support progress through the Gates. In such cases, I will endeavour to keep each step in the process as short - and each iteration within each step - as inexpensive and as fast as is practical.
Gate One: I will Identify a Real Problem and Assess its Value
I will clearly describe a real problem. I will represent its value according to the returns generated by solving it. If the returns cannot be described, then I will not proceed further; I will either clarify it or to find another to work on. If the return can be described, then I will describe my method for determining this value, generally as a function of the number of people who experience the problem multiplied by what they would pay to solve it.
This doesn’t have to be detailed, at this phase I am doing “napkin estimates”.
Gate Two: I will Identify other Solutions
I will thoroughly search the Global Stock of Knowledge (GSK) for ways in which this problem has been solved before. I will perform this search with the assumption that my idea is not new. I will be happy to find evidence of this fact, and will be entirely transparent of what I find, omitting nothing in my report.
The GSK comprises patents, articles, videos, books, films, reports, and other forms of recorded knowledge describe how? It is not enough to only look for existing competitors with products and services currently in the market. It is not enough to search only in english, nor for search terms that are overly wide or narrow. This process requires curiosity, humility, and discipline.
Gate Three: I will Describe the Idea (the Solution to the Problem) and Assess its Cost
I will provide a clear, detailed, and cost-effective solution to the Problem. I could use a laser to open a walnut, but it would not pass the “cost-effective” test. I will recommend the best solution even if it is not the one that inspired the undertaking of this Process.
Gate Four: I will Honestly Represent the Opportunity to Myself and Others
I recognise that passing an idea through the previous gates will give me the clearest possible picture of the opportunity at this early stage. If I rushed, cut short, or ignored anything passing through a previous Gate, I am harming myself by creating a fantasy, wasting my own time and money. If I omit, exaggerate, or otherwise misrepresent my findings when presenting this opportunity to others, I am doing even worse - I am intentionally deceiving others, which is a crime. Having read this charter, I have no excuse for engaging in such behaviour.
I recognise that I am a part of a team that shares common goals and limited resources, and as such I can not in good conscience develop solutions to a problem without knowing as much as can be known about how the problem has been solved by others before me. Acting in Ignorance is irresponsible and wasteful of our resources.
I accept that there is an inverse relationship between the number of raw ideas tested and the cost of being informed. In other words, we become more efficient at the Process the more we do it, and because we can do it faster, it becomes less expensive.
I understand the difference between Effectiveness and Efficiency. I will not pretend that "amount of activity" (becoming more Efficient at building businesses) is anything other than a cost. I understand that without following the Process first, resource spent on Efficiency is wasted.
I will recognise that metrics that rate my performance based on anything other than the Cost of Failure is a symptom of unethical behaviour. I will do everything in my power to patiently, constructively, and peacefully effect change in any organisation that exhibits such behaviour.
I recognise that I am responsible for expanding my own Circle of Competence. The only way to grow a nation is through never ending learning, and this is only possible when enough of us have an insatiable curiosity to know as much as we can about the problems we see and the solutions that have been explored before. I will adhere to The Principles and encourage others to adopt them as well.
Although we wish that it would go without saying, and should be implied by the requirement to solve a real problem, we explicitly require that there be scientific evidence of both the existence of the problem and of its ability to be solved. For example, we must not invest in a product or service that protects you from damage resulting from exposure to Wi-Fi, nor one that allows you to speak with the dead. We already have laws about health claims in marketing, but it is better to stop such projects before they have created victims who then have to appeal to the legal apparatus.
BY ENTERING MY EMAIL ADDRESS AND AGREEING, I PLEDGE TO ACT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE INVENTED AGAIN CHARTER
"The conventional wisdom is that successful innovation depends on providing an environment where there’s a tolerance for failure and a willingness to experiment, it’s safe to speak up, and it’s highly collaborative and nonhierarchical. The reality is that these elements do not suffice.
Each of these easy-to- like behaviors must be counterbalanced by tougher behavior that’s less fun: an intolerance for incompetence, rigorous discipline, brutal candor, a high level of individual accountability, and strong leadership.
Such a culture generates tensions that must be carefully managed. Uncertainty and confusion must be addressed with decisiveness and transparency. People who can’t adapt must be ushered out. The temptation to take shortcuts must be resisted."
- from "The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures" by Gary P. Pisano (Harvard Business Review)