Our process

It all starts with an idea — learn how we can transform a “what if…” question into a government-wide solution.

We believe that federal civil servants — with their front row view to the inner workings of how our government serves the public — are uniquely positioned to identify the key problems that hold our government back. Federal employees submit their ideas through a simple form, and we evaluate them using a formal process at least once a year. But only a handful of the most promising ideas submitted are selected for Phase 1 funding.

As we explore ideas, we whittle down projects to move on to the next phase, where we continue to research and iterate on the idea. Rinse and repeat, until an idea fails to move on to the next phase or graduates from the process, which can happen anywhere along the journey when we feel the solution is ready for go-time.

It’s a funnel, not a tunnel

We decide to continue funding and developing an idea at each phase in the process. This means that deciding what not to advance to the next phase is as important as choosing what will. By applying lean development principles and targeting the most impactful ideas, we can focus time and resources on the things that have the best chance of success.

In March 2021 we:

  • Received and evaluated 250 ideas
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  • Selected 22 ideas for Phase 1
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  • Expect only 8 ideas to move to Phase 2

If an idea doesn’t make the cut to Phase 1, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad or unworkable idea — the 10x model may not be the best vehicle for moving it forward. Or maybe we just had to make a tough call and chose a different project that felt more promising and urgent. Each idea is evaluated on three things:

Clarity

Does it make the case that there’s a compelling problem?

Alignment

Does solving this problem align with the 10x investment themes or other government-wide priorities?

Impact

Will solving the problem make a big difference in how the government serves the public?

Not all of the ideas that make it to Phase 1 continue into Phase 2 or beyond. Ideas can leave the 10x “funnel” at any time. Some of the most common reasons a project doesn’t move to Phase 2 include:
The scope of the problem we're exploring doesn't feel significant enough to warrant 10x involvement
There is low or no demand for a solution by its potential users
A similar solution is already in development elsewhere and 10x doesn't need to stick around

The method to the madness

Projects move through four phases.

Evaluate idea
  • Clarity
  • Alignment
  • Impact
Phase 1Investigate
  • Major red flags
  • Demand
Phase 2Discover
  • Current state
  • Market fit
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Timeline
  • Funding model
Phase 3Develop
  • MVP
  • Recruit agency customer
  • Product roadmap
  • Business plan
Phase 4Scale
  • Additional customers
  • Largest possible audience
Evaluate idea

Identify the problem and initial solution

We carefully review all submitted ideas and select the most promising ones based on our evaluation criteria. We limit the submission to only a few sentences (less than 1,000 characters, to be exact), challenging you to simplify the problem down into concrete, understandable pieces. If your idea is selected, we’ll give you a heads up as it moves into Phase 1.

Learn more about pitching a successful idea.

Phase 1Investigate

Uncover barriers

During Phase 1, we hire a project team — consisting of experts in user research, engineering, and design — who asks and answers key questions about the idea and the problem space. Is this a bad idea? Are there any red flags? Would buying a solution be better than building one? What are the barriers and risks? The team consults subject matter experts, customers, and others to reach a “hard no” (there’s something blocking this from being successful), or a “soft yes” (continue exploring this idea based on what we know thus far).

Every new project starts at Phase 1 — there’s no jumping the line, no matter how much research has already been done. Part of the rigor of our process, and how we ensure unbiased, data-based decision-making, is that the team asks key questions at each phase before deciding how to move forward.

Phase 2Discover

Imagine a solution

During Phase 2, the 10x team does a deeper dive, assessing specific questions about how this project could unfold. What might a solution look like? What’s the market for a potential solution? Are there existing products, services, or in-the-works projects that already solve the problem? How does the regulatory environment affect things?

The projects that measure up in Phase 2 and move on to Phase 3 have been well-researched, and the problem space and potential solution are well understood.

Phase 3Develop

Build an MVP

In Phase 3, the team dedicates even more resources to the project. They may build an MVP (minimum viable product) or a prototype to test how the solution could play out. They outline the roadmap for development, estimate the cost and effort required to sustain the project, and determine which agency or organization will be the steward of the product in the long term.

10x projects are not owned by 10x or TTS. 10x is not in the business of long-term software maintenance; we provide seed funding. As part of the process we look for a “home” for each effort — somewhere the project will be nurtured and have the best chance of continued success.

Phase 4Scale

Evangelize and spread

In Phase 4, we try to scale what we’re building for as many other use cases and agencies as possible. We want to have the biggest impact possible for as many people as possible, and broadening the project’s reach helps us do just that.