Strategic Work: One step at a time
In the first part of this series, we talked about the important topic of Time Management and we provided some tips on how to organize your time so that you can begin the strategic thinking that is so vital to the success of your business.
Now I'd like to discuss the topic of product innovation as applied to new as well as existing products. There will come a time in your business (if there hasn't already) when you'll need to innovate a product or service. Innovation could be instigated by market forces, a shift in customer preferences, or you might find, after conducting marketing research, that what you offer needs to be adjusted to better meet the needs of your customers. The question is: how to go about it.
If you're not familiar with the E-Myth process of analyzing and improving business development systems, read our article about the cycle of Innovation, Quantification, and Orchestration.
Part 2: Rolling out Product Innovations
Updating, enhancing or otherwise changing your products or services can be scary, but when done correctly, product innovation can truly revolutionize your business. The important thing to remember is that you needn't tackle everything at once. Strategic product innovation work can be done incrementally.
In our How to Eat an Elephant article, we talked about the 'one bite at a time' approach and that's exactly what needs to come into play here. Don't become overwhelmed with the size and scope of a project. Take a breath, step back and start thinking about it strategically. After all, larger tasks can and probably should be broken into smaller more manageable sets of activities.
For example, when I was working for a large financial services company here in the United States, I worked on a key strategic initiative: the implementation of a new bank. This was a huge project and very important to the company. So how did we approach it? We decided that implementation of this bank, including the hefty technology pieces, should be broken down into monthly releases. This turned a seemingly overwhelming and complex project into a manageable and far less daunting assignment. This approach also helped to mitigate risk, because it was easier to assess impacts (and recover if necessary) with smaller changes.
In the end the bank was implemented on time and on budget.
Although this approach requires more planning on the front-end, it greatly increases the chances of success. Plus, it's much easier to measure and quantify the results of smaller changes.
- Establish a performance baseline for the existing product, service, or process. This will allow new methods to
be compared to current processes, and enable you to evaluate whether or not changes are actual improvements. It's
also the first step of Quantification (see below).
- Break large initiatives into smaller, more manageable pieces that can be worked on incrementally
- Identify the results you expect to achieve with this change
- Communicate new system rules to the responsible staff members.
- Measure the impact and success of your efforts compared to the previous version.