Market Facts or Leadership Gut Feelings—Which Deliver Sustainable Growth?
Many business leaders have tried continuous process improvement, Lean Six Sigma, and Agile to “improve” their operational, sales, and engineering processes, and failed. These methods are all about their internal world, but business transformation goes well beyond internal changes, because the external market gets a vote. We go external by doing market research in order to determine needs and wants. Then we recommend business transformation actions supported by internal and external research. In doing so, we advocate not just for revising or creating new internal processes, but also new business approaches to the market.
Regardless of the specific growth process your company uses, Lean Six Sigma generally contains four distinct arenas of activity:
- Idea generation and selection
- Market validation
- Business case development
- Targeted commercialization
Research shows that market validation issues rank the highest among all reasons for growth project failures. Breakthrough advises, teaches, and coaches clients in the use of Lean Six Sigma to make their application of the marketing process (including market research and analysis) more effective.
We apply Lean Six Sigma tools and methodologies to better
- Define the market opportunity
- Describe the forces that could impact your concept
- Develop the value proposition
- Build the value-price strategy
- Measure customer perceived value
- Generate product positioning and motivating messages(s)
We advocate defining the success you want to achieve as a future state, then investigating the external factors that drive the transformation you are trying to achieve. Invariably, this requires your organization to change the way they think, the way they act, and utilize the best tools required to achieve that. The way they think is the change in culture; the way they act is their ability to do the work using the right available tools. The proliferation of digital tools that connect and integrate data optimize decision-making, saving resources—people, money, and time. The number of hours it takes to make a decision is decreased by being able to act on the data to deliver greater profitability. In today’s world, that is both easier and harder. It is easier because there are tools to make the work more effective and efficient, but it is harder because the tools are more sophisticated and require a different learning curve than the organization may have experienced in the past.
We have developed a full complement of coursework specifically for marketers—in their language and applicable to the work that they do. Our coaching ensures that real learning and business improvement take place.
Future Business History
Future Business History℠ is part of a process designed to lead a company/business through developing a vision and an aggressive growth strategy. The approach is based on a highly interactive framework that transforms the Future State vision into
- A strategic intent
- Core strategic architecture with operating strategies
- Key actions required to get started
- An organizational model linked to the strategic intent
The set of targeted actions (on a timeline) and success measures comprise the Future Business History.
The process to make strategic product and marketing decisions starts with your internal vision and adds insights into what markets will value to grow your business. We characterize the behavioral and emotional responses customers do and will have to products, services, and individuals – as appropriate. In so doing, marketers receive the information they need to generate the compelling benefits, value propositions, and positionings that go beyond functional appeals. So, communications and offering design are more targeted and impactful, because they address the unique triggers necessary to establish preferences and the desired customer behaviors.
There are four challenges business leaders must face when undergoing a cultural or digital business transformation:
1. Get Real Commitment
The first challenge is to get real commitment and executive sponsorship. Do you find that in your business, trends and ideas are discussed, but the commitment needed for success is missing? Lack of sponsorship—or lots of talk but little to no serious action—puts initiatives at risk from the start. You need to go for real commitment to invest and innovate, and support from top executives.
- Build and communicate business case, highlighting value derived through digital transformation
- Realistically identify resources needed and align with clear objectives
- Develop governance, metrics, and mechanisms to measure and communicate progress
2. Foster a Truly Innovative Culture
The second challenge is fostering a truly innovative culture. A true cultural transformation requires a faster pace to tinker, try, and experiment. Business leaders say they want to innovate, but their employees know failure is not tolerated. There are no rewards for experimenting. To be a powerful leader, you need to foster innovation by addressing increased creativity and the need to take risks by building a “test, fail, learn” culture.
- Assess cultural readiness and change the way people think, so that new behavior follows
- Seed and cultivate innovation and reward learning
- Build a culture that accepts failure for learning
- Develop and nurture innovation networks
In other words, you need to align your business culture with the fast-paced Silicon Valley culture.
3. Build a Collaborative Organization
The third challenge is building a collaborative organization. An outward approach to listening, learning, and leveraging information is required. Inwardly focused employees may have a heads-down awareness of only what goes on in their department, creating short-term vision. Instead, business leaders need to empower employees to think collaboratively and engage with colleagues, customers, and the outside world.
- Expose and build empathy for customer experience
- Rethink old and outdated processes
- Use innovative thinking workshops to jumpstart creativity
4. Anticipate Trends and Respond with Agility
The final challenge is anticipating trends and responding with agility. Trends and technology continue to change as well as the competitive landscape. Many organizations are change-resistant or are slow to adopt new ideas. The desired state for the future is open and agile.
- Engage your team in new thinking and adapting to disruptive business models
- Develop emotional intelligence
- Monitor, learn, test, and adapt—ensure continuous feedback loop
Learn more about innovative business transformation.
™ Marketing Readiness Diagnostic and MRD are trademarks of Imprint Learning Solutions, LLC