Hacking for "X"
H4X increases the speed at which organizations solve difficult problems. Our process refines each problem to its essential components, then surrounds it with a coalition of problem-solvers and experts. H4X participants leverage their unique ecosystem to test critical hypotheses about their problem, developing and pursuing pathways to the solution.
Starting with problems is crucial to any innovation effort. That is why H4X magnifies the effectiveness of the Lean Startup methodology. A deep understanding of the problem lets you get 50X the results in the same amount of time.
What we Offer
The Science of Intrapreneurship
Every organization has to deal with rapidly changing environments, and “being innovative” is often proposed as a solution. Most innovation efforts fail because they focus on the wrong things: a big budget, lots of staff, and a dramatic mission statement. Actual innovation looks much different, and we’ve developed a process to accelerate the development of an ecosystem where innovation can thrive.
The difficult aspects of innovation are knowing which problems to solve, and which people and technologies can solve them. With these pieces in place, leaders can focus on reducing and removing the barriers to experimentation and maturation. That is an innovation ecosystem: the strategic combination of people, technology, and problems - backed by leadership - to accomplish the mission.
H4X always starts with problems. Our team works with you to rapidly assess the most critical aspects of important problems, reaching into our ecosystem of experts. We’ve built algorithms to consider three complementary angles: user desirability; technical feasibility; and organizational viability.
Once enough problems are curated, we can visualize them as a portfolio of opportunities to pursue. We help you identify quick wins and disruptive opportunities, while avoiding the “graveyard” of low-value projects. This lets you prioritize your efforts, avoiding the pursuit of solutions that can’t affordably be built or adopted.
There is no shortage of hard problems that need solving, but luckily we’ve found there is no shortage of individuals looking to lend a hand. To maximize our impact, Hacking For "X" acts across two parallel tracks: H4X pathways run by BMNT, and academic courses organized by the non-profit, H4Di.org.
To learn more about H4Di and University-lead courses please visit H4Di.org.
Products Emphasizing Technology
Many of our customers want to focus first on technology. Research labs are rapidly developing new technologies, while non-traditional technology startups are commercializing these technologies. This constant feed creates both challenges and opportunities. We offer a range of products to help you understand what’s available, who’s building it, how it can be used right now, and how quickly it’s maturing into a dependable product.
Getting ground truth about emerging technologies
Identifying profitable markets for internal technologies
Assessing risks and drivers for emerging technology areas
Commercial Capability Assessment
Where should you start when assessing a new technology? What advances are ready for testing and which are “vaporware”? These are the questions that we answer in our Commercial Capability Assessment [CCA]. We leverage an extensive network of investors and experts to sort out the truly transformative companies, while also offering a snapshot of the industry’s maturity. If you think the CCA could be useful for you, please download and review a recent example
Commercial Opportunity Assessment
Where should you start when assessing a potential market? What’s the most valuable opportunity to pursue when commercializing in-house technology? These are the questions that we answer in our Commercial Opportunity Assessment [COA]. We do extensive Customer Discovery work to assess the untapped potential of IP that’s currently sitting your shelf. We prioritize different use cases and recruit experts who can offer actionable advice about product development. These are proprietary, but we can discuss more specifics if you contact us.
Technical Terrain Walk
Silicon Valley is home to some of the most innovative companies in the world. Tapping into that ecosystem can fast-track your problem solving capability. Experts in industry have already solved your problem, or something similar. Whether it’s some new gizmo or a new mental model that helps us see the problem in a new light, we derive incredible value from our relationships with the cutting edge companies all over the valley.
Over the course of 3 days, the TTW is your chance to meet these innovative companies in-person and have a focused discussion about your problem and solution pathways. You walk away with a Market Survey, highlighting your major takeaways and providing next steps to pursue as you narrow down your solution set.
If you think the CCA could be useful for you, please download and review a recent example
Products Emphasizing Solutions
Instead of focusing on technology, you may want to focus on solving problems. This is our core product line, the Sprints. Sprints are an intensive process spanning 10-20 weeks depending on your goals and resources. The process runs through three phases, each culminating in an in-person activity. The Sprint digs into the root of your problem, while building a coalition of stakeholders and advocates to support the deployment and sustainment of solutions.
Most curated problems are suited to the normal Sprint. Your core team of problem owner and technical experts attend the 3-day Technical Terrain Walk. Afterward they recruit key personnel and end users to participate in a 5-day Sprint Workshop. This coalition works with our facilitation team to pinpoint essential needs and design tests to validate the solution pathway. These tests are presented to you in our detailed Test Plan. Finally, your team takes the data from its test phase and makes specific recommendations on the path forward in a brief to your organization’s senior leadership. We wrap up by presenting you with a comprehensive After Action Report, a detailed accounting of the entire process.
Technology transfer sprint
If you are trying to spin out internal technology, then this is the Sprint you should use. We designed this process to establish partnerships with companies for the transfer of government-owned IP. The process begins with a Workshop to generate strategic consensus within your team. Then we leverage our Customer Discovery process to validate motives and incentives of potential partners, and to identify the most compelling use cases. Our team also facilitates on-site engagement with selected partners, and provides support to ensure the contracting and licensing process goes smoothly.
The Product Sprint is for people who are trying to rapidly develop a new technical capability that does not yet exist. The problem can’t be solved until there are basic prototypes to begin testing. These Sprints usually fall into one of three buckets: targeted development of a specific commercial product; targeted integration of two or more commercial products; or targeted integration of a commercial product and a government product. This process looks like a normal Sprint, except we condense the Workshop from 5 to 2.5 days, and the testing phase shifts later to accommodate product development.
The Pathway Sprint is focused on large, more complex problems. They are too high level or strategic to be narrowed down into one problem. Instead they are overlapping cluster of different problems that need to be teased apart, assessed, prioritized, and then tackled. Our process for Pathway problems looks the same as a normal Sprint, but the deliverables are different. Our Workshop deliverables are usually interactive concepts of operation that solicit immediate feedback. This is critical because we are not yet ready to pursue the testing of specific problems. Instead, the goal is to map out, then begin building a coalition of strategic partners. These people will be responsible for the long-term viability of the solutions that are eventually developed.
Products Emphasizing Culture
Many customers are interested in fostering innovation across their organization. Technologies and solutions are important, but they are ultimately focused on changing the culture. And they can, because the H4X process is not magic. Any organization can learn to apply the language and methodology, fostering its own innovation ecosystem. BMNT offers a variety of training opportunities, from executive education to enterprise-wide programming. Organizations find H4X training especially helpful in the following ways
Learning to scope, prioritize, and solve internal problems
Rapidly understanding emerging technologies
Creating shared understanding of strategic priorities
H4X can help senior leaders with the scoping and implementation of a complex strategy. The ExecEd session is often used to replace senior off-sites. Our 2-day immersive session unsticks leadership teams by: rapidly building consensus around near-term targets; mapping out the incentives of people responsible for execution; and creating realistic plans with timelines that the organization will actually follow.
Inspired by the success of H4X at Stanford, Georgetown, and other elite institutions, this graduate-level course brings together all aspects of the H4X methodology: Problem Curation; Beneficiary Discovery; and Experimentation. Participants run through a 10 week process using a combination of techniques: flipped classroom; active learning; and experiential learning.
This is the first step into the H4X world. This 2.5 day Workshop provides a comprehensive overview of the process. Participants will learn the basics of Problem Curation, Beneficiary Discovery, and Experimentation. This includes exposure to harnessing the Mission Model Canvas as a strategic tool, and empirically vetting assumptions using Minimum Viable Products.
After the Basic Workshop, participants can dive deeper into each of the pillars of H4X: Problem Curation; Beneficiary Discovery; and Experimentation. These workshops are 2 days each, and include rigorous outcome-based testing both at the end and during follow-on activities.
Beneficiary Discovery Workshop
Problem Curation Workshop
The final tier of H4X is by nomination only. Some H4X participants will achieve enough results in their organization to qualify for a week-long immersive test of their H4X skills at our headquarters in Palo Alto. Those who qualify will be certified to run the Basic and Intermediate Workshops at their organization, and to certify others at those levels.