The following framework is a simple set of seven key questions. It’s logical and empirically tested. Using it will transform your ability to troubleshoot ideas and communicate them.
There are the seven questions to ask about any new innovation:
“I have determined that there is no market for talking pictures” – Thomas Edison, 1926
The market is a set of external, immutable forces acting on your idea. It’s terrifyingly easy to create a killer proposition for a stagnant, shrinking, locked-in or non-existent market. To avoid that, you need to think about:.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford
In fact, what Henry Ford’s customers needed was to get places faster. The Model T met a strong, unvoiced and transcendentally important customer need. The most common pitfall of innovation and new product development is to proliferate features that don’t meet a significant customer need. Ask yourself:.
A proposition describes the sum total of benefits that a customer gets from a product or service. For me, one of the ultimate proposition statements of all time was Apple’s “one thousand songs in your pocket” tagline for the first iPod. To develop a great proposition, ask:.
It’s not enough to be a first mover if you have powerful competitors that can overtake you. History is littered with the corpses of failed first movers. To lock-out competitors, ask:.
Imagination often exceeds capability; a fact that often leads to premature genius (see http://www.opineconsulting.com/how-time-product-launches/ for more about the perils of being too early). To avoid premature genius, think about:.
As Gary Hamel observed, “growth is the scoreboard, not the game.” Profitability is the outcome of innovation. But, when it comes to drawing up forecasts and valuations ask:.
If you’re working in a big company, you’ll need to answer this too. Strategy is either brutally simple (if it makes money, it’s a fit) or inscrutably complex. Many strategy academics, take a resource based view, which means answering:
“Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure.” -Albert Einstein
Use this framework to shape and develop your thinking but not to constrain it. When you communicate the idea, use the facts and analysis. But don’t be limited by them..
In other words: Be a storyteller, not an analyst.
Simon Kirby consults on innovation, service and strategic marketing for corporate and government clients. He’s the founder of Opine Consulting.