Innovation, Failure or Success

Have you ever wondered why a great idea just didn’t fly? Or why a product or service is thee one day and gone the next?

Ideas, in any form, have a life. Some ideas lives are long and prosperous, some take strange turns and soar to new successes, unfortunately, others quickly crash and burn into a pile of smoldering junk never to see the light of day.

Why?

As I have illustrated here, ideas have a cycle they follow. The all begin pretty much the same. They are created, then adopted by those early followers. Soon they are accepted by others and move to the next level or cycle of their life. Here the mystery begins.

As with all ideas, external influences determine the success or failure of a given idea or product. It is the exploration of conditions that can help us expand the life cycle and add to the level of success. The mystery I am presenting is that of change.

Change is a cloud of uncertainty. Many things can bring about change to an idea, but once change is introduced, the reaction or effect drives the idea into the Durability Delta. Here the true test of an idea plays out.

So how can this diagram help? By thinking of the possibilities that can create change such as; competition, quality, supply, demand, etc.. and thinking about all those things that can impact an idea. List every possible cause for change in one column and call this column “Causes”. In a second column, list the possible effects from these causes. Allow yourself some room. In a third column create a list of possible defenses to the causes.

Okay now you have the idea, what can impact it, the possible outcomes from those causes and even possible ways of defending those causes, maybe. Now add one last column. Label this column as “Employ”. This column is where the devil advocate likes to play. Here you think of ways to use the cause to your advantage. Let me show you an example.

The Cause

A competitor has improved the idea by adding some new benefits and has been able to keep the selling price close.

The Effect

Consumers begin shifting to the newer idea because the benefits out weigh the price difference. It’s a better value.

The Defense

Lower your price, change your idea or give up the idea for a new idea.

Employ

Act like your own competition. establish a team or panel whose sole task is to try to improve or “knock off” your idea. What changes could be made to make the product competitive to the original idea. Maybe you could spin a second brand where you are your own competition.

Using the Cycle of Innovation chart helps developers and business owners to look beyond the moment and play “What If” game around the idea. It may reveal weaknesses that  can be re-enforced or unseen strengths which you can build on to further improve the idea. It doesn’t matter what your idea may be or how innovative it is, it still has a life cycle which is always affected by change. The more we can understand the causes and their effects, the better we can plan for the life of the innovation or the anticipation of the next level of the idea.

I hope this helps you as much as it helps me.

It All Comes Around

We’ve all heard the old saying ‘Life is like a wheel, what goes around, comes around’. What you send out eventually comes back around to you and usually to your blind side. In business this is so true to a major degree, but not always. Many times your efforts lack results or your message is not shared as you had intended. There are many reasons for this that they have been the source of many marketing books. Out of brevity,  I won’t go there.

As some who know me, I have this perception that many of life’s core solutions revolve around three’s. In this issue about business communication, it rings true. To get a clear image of how to make sure what goes around, comes around in your business, I offer this simple, but effective visual thinking map.

Enter, one of the business triads that addresses; what you say, in which way you say it and what others are say about you.

At the top of our triad stands you, the core of your brand. Next along the triad is the mechanics, the method of delivery and closely followed by your customers. Simple enough layout to understand.

So how does this help you take control of your message and what people say about you or your offering? Not much as diagrams go, until you understand the questions you should be asking yourself at the tips of the triad.

Back at the top is you, your offering or as some would say, your brand. You have a very clear idea of what you do and how you do it, but often, we give control up to marketing and advertising firms who generate some branding message that may fall short of your expectations.  The issue may be that the right message is not being not communicated. Ask yourself this question; what do I want my prospects and customers to know about me?

This is a fairly straight forward question. Your answer needs to be precise, clear and brief as possible. Such as; I offer this to my customer, I solve this problem for my customers or my customers should know this about me, it’s the most important issue. This is the “What for Who” part of your message. Hone it like a knife.

Now you have the start of a great conversation. Your side of the story. The second point along the triad is the mechanics. The “How” of the triad. Here you must find the best avenue or method to convey this message. Identify which mechanism works best to deliver your message directly to your type of customer who needs your service or product. Even though there are many avenues and channels to communicate through, marketing experts tell me start with the best and then fan out where and when needed. It’s best to always monitor this mechanism to make subtle adjustments along the way.

What do we have so far? We have a clear a precise message of who you are, what you offer and how it helps your prospect. Unclouded by flashy words, long meandering explanations and marketing hype. Just the core message. We also have determined the best avenue for that message given the conditions of your target customer. We have addressed two of the three points along the business triad. Onto the third and last point.

The last point is the customer or public. This is the “When, where and why” part of the triad. At this juncture you need to know what people are saying about you and your offering. Yes, you can’t control this, however, this important information to know so that you can adjust your message to stay relevant and on target. By knowing what customers are saying about you and your offering governs either the message, the mechanism or both. Ask your customers what they think about you. A better method is to have someone else ask your customers about you and your offering. This is mystery shopping and a great way to hear the customer’s side of the story.

There you have it, a basic business triad that addresses the core of business. As you may imagine, there are many more to explore. I hope to touch on more business triads in the near future, but for now, this is the thINKologist asking that you keep thinking visual so you can visualize your business success.

Visual Cognition

The growing adaptation of visual facilitation, graphic recording, visual scribing and visual thinking has become quite apparent in the mainstream of business development and change. If you’re not familiar or confused by these terms or processes, it probably would be wise time to research these unique practices.

As the thINKologist, even I, myself, find these terms sometimes confusing or misaligned  to the given task at hand. Practitioners in this field who utilize these dynamic skills are often adjusting the language or description depending on the application or the client’s perception. It can be quite confusing for the uneducated who may hear one term then another when the same function is being performed. There is a need for clarity and unifying terminology or categorization of these collective offerings.

As a solution to this slight dilemma, I have come to use a term I call “Visual Cognition”. The mental process to conceptualize, learn or problem-solve (cognition) through the use of visual tools. In my preference the key visual tool is the use of the thINKing Canvas. A visual media that employes the combination of text and images to increase clarity, uncover opportunities or define possibilities of a given issue.

Visual Cognition is not the creation of yet another new process or an adaptations of any given current format, but merely trying to identify the collective processes which now exist and employed for conceptualization, problem-solving, learning and strategic thinking. The fact is when we employ visual tools to assist ourselves or others in the process of thinking we are then practitioners of visual cognition. By any other term, name or moniker this is the process we are performing.

So when the next time you want to drop an intellectual bomb in a group, just inform them when asked, that you’re a facilitation specialist in the field of visual cognition allowing yourself the opportunity to take center stage to describe your skill set.

Imagine and envision your future.

The thINKologoist.