This may be one of the most valuable podcasts I ever do. I know that that’s a pretty big assertion, but in this podcast I pull together innovation from three major perspectives. These add up to an overview blueprint you can use in any business, for any need by utilizing innovation best practices to sell more and make more.
I just completed the two podcasts that tie together Jim Collins’ good to great best practices. From those podcasts, I will focus on the hedgehog concept in this podcast. I will then add a quantum idea generating perspective followed by Merwyn insights that can translate the work from the two previous steps into an optimized, persuasive customer selling platform.
Hedgehog concept. Collins says that this concept is the one driving business focus that takes companies from good to great. It is defined by the intersection of three circles, which is another way of saying it is the point of common elements for three criteria. Let’s briefly review the criteria that were covered in the last podcast.
What you can be best that in the world. Companies that go from good to great do so behind the concept that leads to a product/service where they are best in the world. That’s a very high bar to set. What Collins does not say enough about is that what you are best at in the world needs to be something that is very important to customers. It is a big need for customers and one that they are less than totally satisfied about. In addition, to being a big business, there need to be many, many customers with this big need. If the need is relatively low in importance and there’s not a lot of customers with the need, you will not sell much.
What drives your economic engine. This is all about the business model. You need to determine what and how are you going to sell your product/service and how much revenue and profit it can generate. This often requires innovative thinking. You have far more business model options than you might imagine. For example, you can sell your product and then have no more economic relationship with your customers. Or you can sell your product and then have ongoing selling of additional products – think of Gillette that sells the handle and then sells a continuing flow of razor blades. Or you can sell your product and tie it to an extended service agreement for products where ongoing service is important. This just scratches the surface about the various ways that you can make money.
What you are passionate about. Most people tend to be passionate about benefiting themselves while some people are passionate about helping others more than themselves. When you’re primarily passionate about benefiting yourself, you might be interested in something that establishes a legacy, gets you promoted, gets you a big raise, to name a few. When you’re passionate about helping others, you often engage an effort to identify the noble purpose you want to align with and support. I covered this important topic in an earlier podcast.
So the hedgehog concept that can take a company from good to great involves a product/service that is best in the world that can be very profitable, and is something you and others can be passionate about. Just hearing these words, you know this is the path for a good company to become a great company.
Quantum idea generation. Now that you have your hedgehog concept, you need to take the concept to the next level – building on the skeleton that the concept represents. There is no better process to do this with than a quantum idea generation session that consistently produces 12 X more ideas than brainstorming.
You need to specifically define the what and how of your hedgehog concept. In the session you need to get very specific about what the product/services are that best represent the hedgehog concept. Quantum idea generating is a great way to do this because you can examine many options in a short period of time.
There are various types of stimulus you will need to bring your hedgehog concept to life. Your group needs to start with understanding the three circles that produced the product/service concept – how did you get there? This stimulus gets everyone on the same starting line. You will then want stimulus drawn from best products and processes around the world that are closely and not so closely related to what you want to do. You then want to look even further to associated product/service types and what the best of the best are doing. Stimulus will become very important to your success.
When you want to become best in the world, you often need to draw upon the best diverse expertise in the world. It is very doubtful that you will have all of the diversity in the company. You will need to seek world-class diversity – exactly what we do at i2ge.com – in the 3 to 4 critical capabilities you need to develop your hedgehog concept into a product/service.
No fear and left/right brain. You will also want to make sure that in your quantum idea generating session that people are excited and not fearful to share wild and wacky ideas. You will want to understand the left and right brain makeup of your group so that you can tailor a sequence of idea generating exercises.
This brief overview in combination with the earlier series on quantum idea generating should put you in a good position to plan and execute your own session.
Merwyn technology. From earlier podcast you know that this technology can very accurately predict a product/service’s chances for success based upon the strength of three communication elements you use to persuade customers to buy your product/service.
Benefit communication. You need to very specifically define the benefits you deliver that meet important customer needs. You need to translate words like more and better into specifics like 35% more and better. You need to use customer language in communicating these benefits. You need to focus on the very few benefits that you are best at and that the customer needs most.
Reason to believe. Any time you’re making a claim that your product/service is better than any other one in the world, you can expect a high level of customer skepticism. To counter this you need to create an exceptionally strong reason to believe communication that you can deliver the promised benefits. There are five strategies for doing this. You need to choose the ones that are most appropriate and where you have the greatest facts and the strongest story.
Dramatic difference. Communicating that you are best in the world at is a dramatic difference. Dramatic difference communication, when done right, gives the information to a potential customer about why they should immediately switch to your product/service. Most often this is woven into your benefit communication coupled with your reason to believe story.
Closing thoughts. By combining a key insight from Jim Collins good to great book with quantum idea generation and Merwyn technology you have a step-by-step process that can absolutely optimize your innovation program. To be clear – there is a lot of work that has to go on in to identifying your hedgehog concept, running a quantum idea generating session, and making sure that you have optimized customer communication using Merwyn technology. The good news is that when you do all of this right there is a very big payoff – you go from having a good business to a great business that is driven by innovation that results in you selling more and making more.