Speed, Agility and Simplicity Work in an Economic Downturn

Speed, agility, and simplicity are buzzwords being broadcast by some B2B company leaders as critical to accelerating innovation. The ability to make your existing managing processes faster, more flexible, and easier to implement is especially important in a lean economic cycle.

The problem is that, in many of these companies, the barriers to speed, agility, and simplicity have become deeply entrenched and must be destroyed before or while engaging in a new innovation model. The most effective barrier-busting weapon is to embrace Market-Driven Innovation. Market-Driven Innovation is based on a proven set of principles:

  • Engineering/technical resourcing decisions are made based on a validated market need and an attractive business case
  • Organizational focus is achieved from understanding market segments and targeting the most attractive segments for growth
  • A cross-functional team approach, marketing, technical, and sales all contribute to the growth initiative together, and thus are aligned on the strategy
  • Accelerated ramp-up after launch from a higher operational knowledge of the market
  • Accelerated technology development due to better design specifications from a segmented market
  • Driven by business leaders who make resource allocation decisions consistent with the strategic direction of the business, and link development to marketing insight

A Different Mindset

Business leaders must change their mindset to empower and enable the organizational change; provide the right skillset for their teams; and give them the toolset required for effective market-driven learning. In most cases, the core potential is already present, so there is no need to start over. Instead, the business needs to remold into a learning organization. Five steps need to be accomplished first:

  1. Redefine and reprioritize project charters using principles of speed, agility, and simplicity. Bless only those charters that meet the new requirements
  2. Obtain the market value analytics before engaging the teams in product development. Using the right toolset cuts this time down to less than two months and saves several months’ worth of wasted development time
  3. Utilize both your marketing people and your technical people in the Voice of the Customer effort and demand their aligned agreement on any proposal to move to the development stage. If they can’t align, then kill the project
  4. Obtain clarity on the development design based on marketplace specifications. Design may be different for different segments; don’t compromise on design
  5. Begin the launch analysis in parallel to the development cycle. Since you have analyzed the voice of the customer using the right toolset, you already know enough to position, price, and segment. You should also have a good sense of your route to market

Follow these steps and you can change speed, agility, and simplicity into something more than buzzwords, and reignite your growth machine – even in an economic downturn.

About the Author

Ronald E. SullivanRon Sullivan is a Senior Partner at Breakthrough Marketing Technology. He has worked with many businesses on innovation, new product development processes, strategy, building new business models, channels and distribution, and pricing optimization. He has significant expertise in study design, data analysis, and market intelligence.


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