Search

Topics

Accounting Advertising Advisor Analysis Apps Attitude Balance Sheet Barriers to Entry Beachhead Benefits Better Books Bottom Up / Top Down Brain Brainstorming Brainwriting Budget Business Flow Business Model Cash Flow Change Commercialization Communications Competition Competitive Advantage Concept Consultant Corporate Entrepreneurship CQs Creativity Critical Success Factor Crucial Questions Crucial Success Factors Culture Customer Decisions Deploy Design Develop Differentiation DXpedition Earn EBITDA Education Effectiveness Elevator Pitch Engineering Enterprise Entrepreneur Entrepreneurship Environment Evolution Executive Summary Exercise Expenses Expertise Failure Feasibility Finance Financial Objectives Flags Flowchart Focus Funding Fuzzy-to-Firm GizmoGadget Glossary Goals Habits Healthy Venture Hiring HOTI Chart Hypothesis Ideas Ideation Impact Income Statement Industry Industry Research Innovate-A-thon Innovation Innovator Intellectual Property Internet Intrapreneurship Invention Inventory Investor Iteration Knowledge Launch Leadership Lean Startup Learning Legal Luck Machines Management Manpower Market Research Marketing Marketing Brochure Material Media Media Relations Mentor Methods Mindmap Mindset Mission Mistakes Money Motivation Myths Name News Release Niche Market Non-Profit Objectives Operating Agreement Operations Opportunity Passion Patents People Pivot Planning Positioning PR Presentations Price Problems Process Flow Product Development Productivity Profit Progress Promotion Prototype Publicity Questions Refine Research Resources Return on Investment Reward Roadmap Rules_of_Some Sales SCAMPER SCORE Scorecard Skills Slides Solution Development Solutions SPLUCK Start-up Stimulation Strategies Strategy Structure Success SWOTT Tactics Tagline Target Market Team Teamwork Technology Readiness Levels Terminology Terms Test Thinking Tips Tools Transformation TRL Validation Value Venture Venture Capital Venture Creation Venture Plan Viability Vision Work Worth Writing
Showing posts with label Innovate-A-thon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Innovate-A-thon. Show all posts

Refine ... Iterate ... Pivot

Creating something new and better is seldom a smooth start to finish process. More often it's a start, test, iterate, refine, re-start, re-test, re-iterate, get frustrated and quit!!



It starts with an idea, it always does! 

The first question, "Who cares? Are there any customers for our idea?" If the answer is "Yes, we think so ...", then move on to the next stage of development: a] create a business model that will fit our target customers and our idea; and b] develop our product and/or service in steps that can be tested and refine (agile engineering, it's called). 

If our first customers are happy with the results, find more and more customers and build up our venture. If our first customers aren't all that thrilled, iterate either our business model or our product/service, or both!

[Thank you, Steve Blank.]

The Three (or Four) Musketeers ...

  1. Successful early-stage venture management teams are often comprised of the "Three Musketeers": the General Manager (President), the Product/Operations Manager (VP), and the Marketing/Sales Manager (VP).
  2. More than three people leading the venture and the communication channels start to become too complex. 
  3. Less than three leading managers and the workload starts to become too intense. If there is a Fourth Musketeer, it could be a Financial Manager (VP?)
  4. The General Manager concentrates on the cash flow, keeping the venture profitable, and stimulating growth.
  5. The Product/Operations Manager is primarily internally focused on creating solutions that are better than the competition.
  6. The Marketing/Sales Manager is primarily externally focused on solving customer problems.
  7. The team is a cohesive entity focused on what is best for the venture and its customers ... one for all, all for one.
  8. Successful management teams are comprised on individuals who are competent, have complementary skills, and collaborative styles.
  9. Together the team is purposeful, passionate, and persistent.
  10. Together the team is focused on earning a profit solving customer problems better than the competition.

Crucial Communication Channels




































At the core, every successful business venture looks like this. Of course, large complex organizations can look much more complicated than this basic diagram. But fundamentally, all successful business ventures consist of these key elements and have these critical paths of communications.

The "alphabetical" communication channels are external, between the key business venture teams and customers:

A] The Research & Development Team communicating with customers to determine what customer problems, needs, wants, and desire the venture should address

B] The Marketing Team communicating with customers to promote current venture solutions, product, services, and processes that solve current customer problems, and obtain feedback from customers relating to the performance of the venture in solving their problems

C] The Sales Team obtaining and processing orders from customers, and customer relationship management

D] The Operations Team building and delivering solutions, products, and services to fill customer orders

E] The Finance/Accounting Team collecting payment for the value delivered to customers by the products, services, and processes provided by the venture

F] The Venture Management Team soliciting feedback and inputs regarding the relationship between the customers and the venture

The "numbered" communication channels in Figure 5 are internal, the information being shared between departments in a business venture.

1] Marketing and Innovation Development Departments share information about customer problems, needs, wants, and desires, and the benefits, fit, form, function, and features of new products, services, and processes being created in the organization.

2] The Marketing and Sales Departments coordinate information about the benefits, fit, form, function, and features of currently available solutions, products, services, and process that match customer requirements, including the price of the offerings.

3] The Sales Department communicates information about customer orders to the Finance/Accounting Department such that the customer is properly billed when the solutions, products, and services are delivered.

4] The Sales Department communicates information about customer orders to the Operations Department such that the appropriate products and services are delivered to the customer.

5] The Operations Department communicates information about product and service delivery to the customer so the Finance/Accounting Department can accurately bill the customer.

6] The Research & Development Department (often called the Engineering Department) provides the Operations Department with bills of material and assembly instructions for creating the solutions, products, and services being sold to customers.

Tips for Developing a Venture Strategy

  1. Develop the vision statement, the mission statement, and the business model
  2. Describe the industry and context for the firm and its competitors
  3. Determine the firm’s strengths and weaknesses in the context of the industry and environment
  4. Describe the firm’s core competencies, its customers, and its competitive advantage
  5. Describe the opportunities and threats for the venture
  6. Identify the critical success factors
  7. Formulate strategic options and select the appropriate strategy
  8. Translate the strategy into action plans with suitable measures and controls
[Thank you, Tom Beyers]

Technology Readiness Levels


Thanks to NASA and the European Commission for this succinct guide to the readiness of technology ideas and concepts for commercial application.

 

Mission Statement ... The Critical Success Factor!

The world changes ... client needs, wants, desires; competitive offerings; economic environments; et alia.  
Every organization must proactively address change if it is to survive and thrive.  The four elements of the Critical Success Factor are excellent focal points for potential innovation in an organization.  

The Critical Success Factor statement is also an excellent Mission Statement template.

REAL Brain


 

Crucial Questions (CQs)


Ask and you shall receive!
First Round ... ask the the basic CQs
Second Round ... ask supporting CQs for each of the basics
Third Round ... dig deeper!

Potential Sources of Differentiation

Every successful business is differentiated from its competition ... it could be very unique and significant, or it may be seemingly small and minor. But customers choose one enterprise over another for a reason. Following are some potential sources of value and differentiation to use as a guide when creating a competitive advantage strategy ...

ambiance ... branding ... business model ... community service ... contrived deterrence ... convenience ... copyrights ... cost advantages ... cost advantages independent of scale ... customer relations ... customer responsiveness ... customer service ... delivery ... distinct unique competencies ... economies of scale ... effective sales methods ... efficiency ... experience of doing business ... features ... functionality ... government regulation ... high quality ... image ... innovation ... intellectual property ... limited resources ... location ... low-cost ... manufacturing innovation ... market positioning ... market segmentation ... operational methods ... patents ... performance ... price ... product design ... product differentiation ... product innovation ... product selection ... product-line breadth ... quality ... rarity ... relationships ... reliability ... reputation ... selection ... service ... shopping experience ... supply chain relations ... switching costs ... trademarks ... trade names ... unique capabilities ... value

[1.07]

Tips for Picking the Right Opportunity

  1. You and your team are passionate and persistent ...
  2. Your team has or can learn the skills needed ...
  3. Your team can collaborate and cooperate ...
  4. The problem is clear ...
  5. The customers are readily identified ...
  6. The market is significant ...
  7. You have a feasible solution ...
  8. The competition is identifiable ...
  9. Your solution has better and sustainable benefits ...
  10. Your solution can generate a sustainable profit ...
  11. Your venture is timely, important, legal ...
  12. Your venture can build barriers to entry ...
  13. Your concept is scalable ...
  14. You'll invest less time, money, and effort in the venture than it will be worth in a couple of years ...
  15. If the opportunity turns out to be less than favorable, you can exit with minor losses ...
  16. Risks can be mitigated ...
  17. The upside potential is significant and timely ...
  18. Your team has a clear plan for success ...
  19. Your team can find the resources needed ...
  20. You and your team are committed to success ...
  21. The opportunity has a potential for long-term success ...

Innovation Impact Mindmap



For 20+ years, I taught in a University of Arizona entrepreneurship program.  This Innovation Impact Mindmap started on the whiteboard in my office, a graphic schematic of the course syllabus.  

A syllabus is sequential, but innovation and entrepreneurship usually is not.  They bounce around a bit, from here to there and round again. 

The whiteboard version was fairly simple, but useful.  Students and colleagues took pictures of it for reference.  So, I thought, why not elaborate it just a little bit?  

[OK, OK, so maybe a little bit more than just a little bit!]  

I've added elements that I thought would be most useful, but certainly not all apply to every new venture! The "main highway" is the mission statement, highlighted in yellow.

Think of this Mindmap as a checklist of the elements you might want to visit as you travel around on your new venture adventure! 

High resolution .pdf .jpg and .png versions are available HERE.

--Jim

The Role of a New Business Development Team Mentor

Experienced mentors can help innovators and entrepreneurs effectively and efficiently move their venture concept through the research, ideation, test, and planning stages to resourcing, launch, stability, sustainability, and growth. The role of a new business venture development team mentor is wide-ranging:

1] Mentor: experienced and trusted adviser (typically an unpaid, voluntary, part-time role)
2] Adviser: an expert willing to share their knowledge and opinions
3] Business Plan Editor: a mentor is best used in an editor role, rather than a writer
4] Voice of the Customer: keeps a light on the customer pain-pleasure spectrum
5] Voice of the Competition: ignoring the competition is never a good strategy, and there is always competition (alternatives, substitutes, replacements)
6] Voice of the Stakeholders: everyone involved with the venture must win
7] Voice of the Team Members: a balanced team is a productive team
8] Domain Expert: teaching from education and experience
9] Soothsayer: foresees the future based on experiences from the past
10] Angel Advocate: supports the team and venture, internally and externally
11] Consultant: professional expert advice (usually compensated to perform specific tasks)
12] Moderator: arbitrator, mediator
13] Coach: helps the team iterate and pivot as needed
14] Board Member, Director (not an ordinary role): helps govern the affairs of an organization
15] Teacher: instructor, guide
16] Innovation Stimulator: innovation is a continuing journey, not a destination
17] Collaborator: partner with the venture team
18] Friend: personal confidante and sounding board
19] Tool Technician: helping the team use the right tool at the right time for the right purpose
20] InnovateAthon Tour Guide: Creativity, Innovation, Entrepreneurship
21] DXpedition Tour Guide: Discover, Define, Design, Develop, Deploy
22] InnovateAthon Master of Ceremonies and/or Notetaker: leading the creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship process

Stages of Venture Evolution

Successful business ventures typically move from a] problem/solution ideation to b] planning to c] startup to d] stable to e] sustainable to f] scalable.

Another perspective ...

1. Opportunity ... gap in market, new technology ... maybe, just maybe, we can do something here
2. Idea ... clear problems, viable solutions ... hmmm, looks like there is something here
3. Concept ... viable strategies for earning a profit solving customer problems better than the competition
4. Venture ... viable innovation concept (product, service, process, position, method); viable team (innovator, entrepreneur, money manager); viable resources (people, places, things, time, money)
5. Organization ... team, roles, clear strategies,
6. Company ... legal entity (corporation, LLC, et alia), pre-sales, unstable financials (raising funds)
7. Business ... low-hanging fruit, sales, customers, stable, positive EBITDA, viable business model
8. Enterprise ... scale, scope, markets, growth, significant EBITDA, defined task and assignments, employees
9. Institution ... significant market share, significant industry position, re-invention, continual innovation
10. Tombstone ... the cows have run out of milk

Technology Readiness Levels (TRL)

Most every new innovative idea has a fuzzy front-end. The idea may have potential, at least in someone's mind, but it also likely has "holes" in it.  Will it really work? What about this, what about that?
If we were to score this new idea, from 0 to 9, where would it be? Turns out, NASA and the European Commission created a well-vetted method for scoring new ideas based on the stage of technological progress ... 0 being conceptual, 9 meaning the idea is out there and doing well in the world.




Rules of Some for Innovators and Entrepreneurs

Here's a collection of more tips, tools, and rules of some for innovators and entrepreneurs: RulesOfSome.com

The Critical Success Factor

There are multiple factors that directly influence the health and wealth of any given business venture. These factors may be diverse and different depending on the nature of the business. The Critical Success Factor, however, is common to virtually all business ventures.

The Critical Success Factor: Earn a Profit Solving Customer Problems Better than the Competition. It is do, or die. A venture dies for one of three reasons: 1] It didn't earn a profit; 2] It didn't solve its customer's problems; 3] It wasn't better than the competitive alternatives.

Earn a Profit Solving Customer Problems Better than the Competition ... The Critical Success Factor for all business ventures.

Critical ... having the potential to become disastrous
Success ... attains prosperity
Factor ... a circumstance that contributes to an outcome

* Earn ... Teamwork!  A business employs a team of people working together to continually and profitably solve customer problems better than competing alternatives. Healthy, growing ventures follow a clear business model. An educated, experienced, collaborative, communicative team with key core competencies is paramount to success.

* Profit ... The monetary value captured by a business is appropriately called earnings. After all expenses are accounted, earnings become profit. Profit is a reward for doing a good job solving customer problems. A key source of growth funding for a business venture is earned profit. While the profit reward is "financial", the reward can and should have other elements, too. In a healthy venture culture it can actually be "fun" going to work and being part of the team, and their may well be some "fame" that results from delivering valued solutions to customers.

* Solving ... Solutions to customer problems are typically combinations of products, services, process, and methods. However, the world keeps changing as do customers and competitors. Solving customer problems, new and old, is a continuing process for sustaining a healthy venture.

* Customer ... Customers are the primary source of revenue for a business venture. Some business ventures may have only a few key customers, others may have many. A group of customers that share similar traits comprise a market segment. Many business ventures may serve multiple and varied market segments. A business venture exists to serve its customers.

* Problems ... Customer needs, wants, desires, and situations that can be adequately addressed  and resolved in a reasonable time and expense are good opportunities for a business venture.

* Better ... Continually improving value is critical to sustaining a competitive advantage. Scientists and engineers often think about innovative solutions in terms of the fit, form, function, features, and performance. The entrepreneur thinks in terms of the benefits customers will receive. Value is measured by comparing the benefits to the price. Value can be increased by delivering better benefits to customers, by lowering the price, or both. Customers decide what offers the better value. In the long run, the products, services, processes, and methods that deliver a better value win the business.  In short: Value = Benefits / Price

* Competition ... There are (almost) always competing solutions and ventures from other sources that are directly comparable to our solution. This competition includes indirect alternatives, substitutes, and replacements that could serve customer requirements. Best to assume we have competition, even if we don't yet know who or what. Competition is not always a bad thing ... competitors can help validate and build new markets, and sometimes competitors can become collaborative partners.