Mars Petcare needed to reinvigorate one of its brands. To do so, they partnered with The Garage Group, which set out to reorient their business strategy and identify a new, more focused consumer segment.

A custom 5-day Strategy Sprint was developed that combined elements from ‘Google Ventures’ Design Sprint and Jobs to be Done theory, as well as Business Model Canvas, Lean Startup, and several other entrepreneurial frameworks. Leveraging this approach, the Mars Petcare team accomplished their goal; the strategy determined at the end of the sprint is what you will see coming to life in today’s market.

Here are a few takeaways from the Sprint, more of which will be shared during the Mars Petcare and The Garage Group presentation at CRC, October 8-10 in Orlando. 

Enabler #1: Emphasis on the Consumer Problem
Our natural tendency is to think about the problem in the context of solutions that currently exist (or of that we’ve already conceived) instead of taking time to ground ourselves in the true consumer pain and problems. The Mars Petcare team spent the first two days of the sprint focused on clearly defining the prime consumer prospect and their pain points, and then translating those pain points into Jobs to be Done before jumping into any solution creation. It took a disciplined, systematic approach to detach the true Job to be Done from existing solutions and other complicating factors, but the time invested to do this up front paid huge dividends as it enabled them to truly define their prime consumer prospect.

Enabler #2: Power of Back-of-the-Envelope
It’s impossible to completely answer every relevant question that arises during a sprint. This intentional constraint forces teams to focus on the truly important questions, and let minor distractions slide. It also forces teams to get comfortable building strong estimates from incomplete data. The ability to make good estimates, especially when sizing markets for big new opportunities, is critical to innovation work; and teams that do this well will find themselves miles ahead. During the sprint, we aggressively leveraged a combination of internal and external, publicly-available data to form market size estimates. We further strengthened the estimates by coming at them from both a top-down and bottom-up approach. This combination of methods and sources gave the team high confidence in their estimates despite incomplete data.

Enabler #3: Setting Leadership Expectations
Setting expectations and checking in with senior leadership throughout the process is a key enabler of a Strategy Sprint. For the Mars Petcare team, we asked leaders to be collaborators instead of approvers, providing clear opportunities for productive feedback.  Ultimately, this level of coaching and alignment along the way gave the team more confidence and conviction in their final decision. The Mars Petcare team continuously displayed their work on the walls, science fair board style, so the CMO and leadership could see the consistent evolution of the ideas based on the input. When pitching their final idea to leadership, some even dressed in costume, showing the value of tactile, kinetic outputs of their innovation. They pitched their high level vision with strong perspective because of their deep ownership of the work, presenting what they believed to be true due to the deep consumer focus, instead of presenting what they thought key decision makers wanted to hear. All of this inspired the CMO to ask himself, “How do I get the rest of my teams operating with this sort of ownership and passion for the work?”

To learn more about Strategy Sprints and Enablers, be sure to attend “Mars Petcare / Take a Strategy Sprint to Tackle Strategic Growth Challenges” at CRC, October 8-10 in Orlando.