Hacking for "x" (H4X)
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.
Curated problem ecosystem
Common language for problem-solving
Pathways to solutions
Minimum Viable Products
Every organization has to deal with rapidly changing environment, whether it’s military, commercial, or a blend of the two. Most innovation efforts fail because they focus on the wrong things: fancy buildings, 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 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 virtuous combination of people and problems - backed by leadership - to address strategic priorities.
Training & Certification
The H4X process is not magic. Any organization can learn to apply the language and methodology to create 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
De-risking new partnerships with early-stage companies
Rapidly developing fluency in emerging technologies
Creating a shared understanding of organizational priorities
Harnessing Multiple Tracks for Problem Solving
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 sprints, and our academic courses organized by the non-profit, H4Di.org.
To learn more about H4Di and University-lead courses please visit www.H4Di.org
H4X sprints are the focus of BMNT’s efforts. We run teams through a roughly 120 day process, digging into the root of their problem while building a coalition of stakeholders inside government and throughout the commercial sector who have a tangible stake in the problem and its solution. Through user testing, problem refinement, and outreach, teams emerge with early-stage prototypes for further testing and/or a pathway for development (often utilizing the agile contracting authorities of the sponsoring agencies).
Technical Terrain Walk
Silicon Valley is home to some of the most innovative companies in the world. Tapping into that ecosystem can fast-track our problem solving capability because chances are someone, somewhere in private industry has already solved your problem (or solved an analogous problem). 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 with organizations on the bleeding edge.
Market survey report with contact information
Coalition of non-traditional companies and subject matter experts
Refined problem statement & Mission Model Canvas
5 Day Workshop
The 5-Day Workshop brings together a diverse coalition of users, customers, enablers, and partners. They work in teams through intensive programming to deepen their collective understanding of the problem, solicit real-time feedback from subject matter experts, and build testable experiments to refine their ideas. 5-Day Workshops result in targeted recommendation for innovation efforts, based either on: pathways for future development or deployment of existing programs; or minimum viable products (MVPs) assembled to validate potential solutions.
Coalition of subject matter experts and other government agency partners
Pathways to Solutions
Minimum Viable Products
2.5 Day Workshop
The 2.5 day H4X workshop focuses on familiarization with the methodology and language of problem-centric innovation. Participants will learn by experience how to deconstruct and improve problem statements, scope appropriate long-term goals, build a Google Ventures Map and Mission Model Canvas, identify critical hypotheses, develop Minimum Viable Products to test those hypotheses, and other tools to rapidly validate problems through feedback from beneficiaries, partners, and other key stakeholders.
Recommendations based on validated learnings
H4X certificates for attendees
List of problems and owners
1 Day Workshop
The 1 day H4X workshop provides a strategic overview of the process, language, methodology, and--most importantly--requirements. Participants will gain an appreciation for the challenges of operationalizing “innovation” in any large organization. They will also be able to develop timelines and milestones unique to their organization. The workshop includes materials that can be put to immediate use by leaders who are trying to increase speed and impact of their problem-solving efforts.
Problems don’t exist in a vacuum. They affect people. The first step to understanding any problem is understanding the people experiencing the problem. We call these folks, “beneficiaries.”
The fastest way to understand your beneficiaries, is to simply get out of the building and go talk to them. Each conversation with a beneficiary will validate some assumptions and invalidate others — getting us closer and closer to a fully validated problem statement and setting the stage for a productive sprint. This process of testing our assumptions by talking to people experiencing the problem is called "beneficiary discovery.”
Being hypothesis-driven and fast-moving sounds contradictory, but it really isn't. Agile validation is never about building end-products. It’s about getting the most validated learning in the shortest possible time. Enter the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Our MVPs take a few hours to build (not weeks). They can be anything from a wireframe prototype, to a spreadsheet with sample data. Think of the MVP as something you can put in front of an end user to gather feedback — when words just aren’t enough.
Silicon Valley INnovation Academy (SVIA)
BMNT has also taken its problem-centric innovation methodology to the entrepreneurial community. We currently run a Stanford program each summer for visiting students from dozens of countries.
SVIA is a 7-week Summer Innovation Academy at Stanford University where students get to see, touch, taste, hear and feel the culture of Silicon Valley–a hands-on startup experience that takes students through the startup process from napkin to prototype. SVIA gives students the opportunity to spend 7 weeks learning from expert coaches and mentors throughout Silicon Valley. Stanford Summer Session supports student's journey with access to leaders of innovation and ideation through panels, site visits and coaching sessions.
BMNT is expanding the SVIA concept to adapt it to universities in other regions, "X" Innovation Academy, (XIA). In every case, we retain the same emphasis on finding, validating, and solving difficult problems using an iterative, hypothesis-driven approach.