Your business might be a “star sprinter” in your own lane. But that doesn’t mean you have to stick to one lane.
There are other markets out there. With bold creative thinking and expansive strategic vision, you might see applications and customer benefits your business model could—but might not yet—support.
A big idea on its own doesn’t automatically lead to profitable and sustainable organic growth. Unknown territory is just that—unknown—and expanding into it carries risks.
But what you don’t know shouldn’t stop you. Growth is essential. If you plan on tackling transformational innovation, you need to:
- Implement deliberate planning and decision making. Doing so will help you see any potential “landmines” and avoid setting them off.
- Manage uncertainty. Knowing your blind spots helps you compensate and manage risk.
- De-risk the uncertainties. What kind of expertise do you need to help your organization gain the confidence it needs to expand, scale, and succeed in the new world?
The process may seem straightforward, but it takes time, patience, communication, and collaboration.
Dan Adams, a GLG council member and the founder and president of the AIM Institute, has established Minesweeper Project De-risking—to help your organization blaze a trail in a new market when the opportunity is right.
Landmines and Uncertainty
Your first step is to identify possible landmines—those assumptions that can stop a potentially transformational idea before it gets started. This minesweeping helps you determine and reduce both uncertainties and risks.
Before you go too far, Adams says, it’s critical to understand the difference between uncertainty and risk. Uncertainty is a question, and answering that question determines your level of risk. You want to minimize that risk by turning uncertainties into certainties, which means putting your ideas to the test.
The idea of stress-testing your big idea will require you to challenge your idealistic assumptions about it. But at the start, you’re much better off identifying stakeholder and customer concerns.
“Nobody steps on a landmine they can see,” Adams says. “And unfamiliar terrain means they’re a greater danger.”
How to Start De-risking
Start the process of de-risking the uncertainties by assembling a multidisciplinary team—technology, product development, finance, marketing, and others—to identify all the landmines you can: the facts, assumptions, and questions about science, customer research, costs and scalability, and other considerations behind your idea.
Adams identifies six areas of uncertainty to manage. Three are external assumptions:
- Market dynamics
- Required outcomes
- Desired outcomes
Three are internal assumptions:
- Internal capabilities
- Required solutions
- Desired solutions
Generate all assumptions and analyze each for its level of certainty and impact. Then create an action plan for your team members to investigate the low-certainty/high-impact assumptions and drive them to high certainty. When you share your progress with management, it demonstrates your confidence that you have a rational plan to remove unwanted risk.
Getting the Right Insights
First, admit you don’t know. Acquiring the right insights depends on extensive quantitative and qualitative research from sources outside your areas of expertise.
Your customers are not your limit. If you only see the audience you know, you can’t identify the full scale of your opportunities or new value propositions—or uncover the landmines you can’t see.
Expand your world. Surveying prospects outside your own base gives your organization many advantages. This knowledge provides a deep understanding of customer needs, improving both product development and market positioning.
But niche companies require niche expertise. Although finding and interviewing subject-matter experts and customers in your expansion markets can be a challenge, it’s essential to getting clarity to see a market for what it is and what it offers.
External consultation can connect you with the experts and audiences who hold these insights. Tapping their knowledge might entail several strategies, including:
- Joining expert webcasts, teleconferences, or roundtables
- Conducting product-testing workshops or customer focus groups
- Connecting with subject-matter experts for short- or long-term consultation and learning and development
- Surveying targeted populations for insights on trends and/or field-testing strategies
The investments you make today in identifying external audiences and getting reliable data points may make all the difference in bringing your organization to a new market.
Find out how GLG’s network of more than 700,000 specialists can help your organization gain new insights from consultations, surveys, subject-matter experts, and more at https://glg.it.