Every company and industry imposes frustrations and compromises onto its customers. (Even Apple’s best-in-class I-Phone requires the compromise of AT&T’s more limited 3-G network and high monthly prices.) Eliminate a compromise or trade-off, and you have the foundation for a winning new business, new offering, or stronger value promise.
It’s hard to identify the trade-offs because an industry’s compromises and frustrations are almost cemented in our expectations and paradigms for how things work. The best phones cost more after all. Yet we have model after model of entrepreneurs who bring a new lens to an old industry and find a disruptive innovation that makes a fortune while oftentimes making the world a better place too, or at least a less frustrating one.
Imagine you are a arriving from a superior planet and look at the offerings in an industry. Then identify the frustrations and tradeoffs you encounter. Better yet, interview customers about what frustrates them about your industry or product category – what are they forced to do or accept that they wish they did not have to in order to purchase from your industry or category?
How can you find the solution? Customers think too narrowly, so don’t look to them for the answer. My dear friend and creative genius Barry Callen offers a tool – Yes … And – in the video clip below that I promise will help your team break-through the tradeoffs your target customers encounter when shopping for solutions from you and your competitors.
Watch the video (4 min, 20 sec.)
People create a story, one person at a time, with the ground rule that each person must build upon (versus tear-down) earlier contributions. This skill is lacking in corporate cultures in which there is oftentimes more competition within the leadership team than there is with the real competitors.
Barry’s example is three people creating a silly story, but his method works on real-world problems. A client’s e-learning solutions leave a lot to be desired. We used “yes-and” to break through the compromises inherent in e-learning and came up with some terrific strategies to innovate his offerings.
I do disagree however with Barry’s line that improvising should replace planning. Every organization should consciously decide upon its business model. The model will evolve as the external world changes, but without agreement on where and how you want to win business and grow, people run off in different directions. And that is not just inefficient, it precludes ever being truly effective.
For insight on business model innovation and business model strategy, read my recently released book, Beyond Price.
Fred H Schlegel says
Yes and… I think great planning is what makes it possible to improvise as you move forward. If you’ve thought through things you can anticipate then you have a bigger toolbox to pull from when the unexpected pops up. (Although if the unexpected always pops up is it really unexpected? Hmmm, mysteries of the universe.) Navigating trade offs is always difficult. In complex product management situations I like having a strong ranking of the various features so that when those trade-offs have to be made we work in favor of the most important features. Sometimes its easy to allow something flashy to slip through that seems attractive, but it gets in the way of core functionality – ruining a user experience for very little gain.
.-= Fred H Schlegel´s last blog ..Avoid Middleman Status =-.
Kay Plantes says
The unexpected always pops up in my world too and that of my clients. What I like about thinking forward is that it makes you more flexible for an uncertain future. I think that will become an even more important skill in our increasingly uncertain world.