Butterfly, Customer Development, Innovation

Butterfly Laboratory


image by @gapingvoid (Hugh McLeod)

The Butterfly Lab concept was created out of necessity. After developing and exploring the initial idea of Butterfly using principles of customer development we launched the initial website. By this point we had built great partnerships and support as well as had generated excitement and connected with many different stakeholders and youth. We also had a few ideas submitted.

What we didn’t have were any project ideas. Seems pretty straightforward that if you’re creating a service that assists with crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing that you need to provide projects for people to volunteer for and fund. The difference between an idea and a project idea is – to paraphrase Mark Twain –  the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. Both are important, but a project idea is something that is ready to be assessed, planned for, supported, and delivered. What we were missing were the processes and tools people need to create ideas and build upon these ideas. In short, we did not have any methods and tools for people to use to build viable project ideas. Without this we felt we could not be successful.

So, armed with this hypotheses we started to work with a few groups of young people and their mentors and teachers to develop the methods and tools that might work. Drawing on concepts used by various social labs, Business and Value Proposition DesignIDEO.org, Agile theory, some of our own ideas, as well as things created with participants in the sessions, we are working at finding the right frameworks and processes that help build viable, credible, and deliverable ideas. Whatever we learn we share. Whatever works belongs to everybody.


Community and self discovery pictures

We start with empathy and understanding – both of the community and of the other people in the room. We explore what people are passionate about, what they would like to change, and work with each other to build out ideas that may solve problems. It’s not a perfectly engineered process, but innovation and creativity cannot be engineered. It’s messy, challenging, and pushes people to develop skills they did not know they possessed – in problem solving, team work, and communication. It’s also fun.

This is the problem that needs to be solved: how do you help others create, build, validate, and successfully fund and resource their ideas. We need to do this openly, safely, transparently, and share the tools and methods we develop. This is where we are going.

Ready to begin? Get in touch.



Butterfly Website



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