Five Steps to use Innovation to find Market Growth Opportunities
You and your team have hammered out a great market growth opportunity. You feel confident that it will generate significant growth moving forwards. You are all really pumped. Now what? How do you stop this idea falling into the “well of despair” where often opportunities languish and never see the light of day?
Here are five steps to help move that idea into a real market growth opportunity for your business unit.
1) Build a guiding coalition.
You need a team of supporters and sponsors. In a large organisation, you won’t be able to get the project up yourself. Ideally, try and get the CEO/person at the top of the board. If not the CEO, then you need at least two layers of supporters to champion the cause. Our experience shows that trying to get a new idea up and out rarely works if you attempt it on your own and in isolation of the executive.
Further, you need to keep them informed and up to date. The one-off meeting won’t work – you need to have regular check-ins to keep the momentum going.
Keep detractors away. Really. You might think you can convert them, but you are better off keeping them at arm’s length. And over time, they will lose interest anyway in the project and drop away, which is great. Detractors have the real possibility of totally undermining your project if left unchecked.
2) Validate Desirability, feasibility and viability.
Is there a market for your opportunity? How do you know? Intuition alone does not work. You now have to validate three elements for your opportunity to gain traction. Desirability – does the venture solve a problem and does anyone really want it? Feasibility – can it actually be developed and taken to market? And Viability – does it make economic sense?
The best way to validate is to run real live experiments. Set up a landing page and drive people to it to test desirability. Engage with the business to see if the opportunity can really be feasible. And you need a validated financial model to understand viability – does it really stack up financially. These sorts of experiments can usually be done in a 9-12 week period. Please reach out to us if you want to understand how to do this in the best possible way to maximise your market growth opportunities.
3) Think Like a startup.
Traditional waterfall models of idea commercialisation rarely work anymore. They take too long, and most die along the way from lack of enduring sponsorship and lack of funds, causing a drought of market growth opportunities in big business. Imagine that the venture could be spun out as a separate entity from the mothership: What would it look like? How much cash does it need? How can it get up in ten weeks rather than ten months? Who will be the founders apart from yourself? What could a lean governance structure look like to enable the entity to be nimble and agile? What does an exit look like? Could you have some equity in the venture?
This sort of mindset changes the game. It moves the opportunity from a traditional waterfall approach into an exciting, nimble and agile new venture. It delivers a new breath of life into the venture and all the people involved. People start to get really excited. Funding starts to appear in unexpected places. The ultimate goal of success actually starts to become possible and able to be grasped.
4) push the boundaries.
One of the challenges of operating within a large organisation is that you can easily be dissuaded from proceeding with a venture. It’s too hard. The timing is not right. Remember, thy are operating within the bubble of what they know. Don’t fall into this trap. You are thinking outside the bubble – they are not. What do they know? They know what they know – it is what lies outside their reach that is really exciting. Talk to many. Pitch to others outside your normal ecosystem. Lots of coffee catchups will show you market growth opportunities that you, and the traditional business, never even thought of.
5) Seek outside assistance
Bring in a mentor from outside the business. Someone who can act as an “entrepreneur in residence”. This is essential. You need someone external to the traditional organisation to challenge, to prod, to question, to debate and to provide an external lens on issues you don’t know about. What could the new structure look like? How do you appoint directors? What is a shareholder’s agreement for a new venture? Does the financial model really stack up? This outside mentor might end up being an external director on the board of your new venture…. A great way to try him/her out and get to know one another.
Too often executives think that what they know is the only way. Most often this is not the case. Bringing in expert advice from the outside, in our experience, is crucial to the success of the venture.
For a coffee to discuss any aspect of this article, and to understand how we can deliver value, please contact Jeffrey Tobias at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0401890071
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Managing Director, The Strategy Group
Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well known startups. Jeffrey’s corporate background includes leading global innovation strategy at Cisco, working with large corporates such as Adobe, Westpac, Telstra, Woolworths, and Perpetual.
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