Last week I pounded on folks for being wimps and not making decisions. Out of fairness, many of you want to move your organizations forward but might not have all the tools or resources to do so, Given that, I’d like to provide you some explosives.
These are the good kind of explosives. The kind that enable you to blow up your business model and find innovative new ways of doing things. Too many times we get trapped by our routines. Have you ever tried to change your personal routine? Uncomfortable and difficult, right? Now multiply that by the number of people in your organization and you have a sense for why nothing ever changes.
Sometimes the only way to change things is to (mentally) throw away everything you’re doing and declare a “do over.” In doing so, new opportunities might pop out and innovative ways of doing things can emerge.
Far too often, we wave our arms at innovation. We spew consultospeak like “think outside the box, push the envelope, and break the paradigm” with absolutely no clue what those words mean or how to do pursue those tasks. For those of you who know thoughtLEADERS well, we see it as our charge to provide you practical tools for taking action (shameless plug: we teach classes on this stuff too).
Enough blathering – here’s how you can (constructively) blow up your business and find potentially innovative new ideas:
When we talk about blowing up the business, we look at three kinds of explosives: blowing up the business model, blowing up your revenues, and blowing up your costs. The methodology requires you to simply ask yourself some expansive yet difficult questions. The rules of good brainstorming apply (no judging, no holding back ideas, and make the brainstorm time-bound or you’ll never stop generating ideas).
At first blush, these questions will look ludicrous. It’s deliberate. They’re expansive. They’re designed to knock you out of the land of incrementalism and into a broader, more innovative space. Here are a few thought starters you can use:
Blow Up the Business Model
– If you had a “do over,” what would you build differently? Why?
– If you moved this business to India or China (both customers and operations), how would you restructure to be more profitable?
– How would you double profits within 2 years?
Blow Up Your Revenues
– Who could create more value with our customer base than we can? Why?
– How would you triple revenues within 5 years?
– What are the 10 products we aren’t offering our customers that we should be?
Blow Up Your Costs
– How would you run this business with 2/3 fewer people?
– How could you eliminate your job?
– What is the most wasteful thing we do and why haven’t we stopped doing it?
We’ve identified many other questions along this vein. This is only a start. As you answer these questions, new ideas should emerge. Challenges to the status quo should spring forth from these conversations. Those ideas are the heart of innovation.
These questions should make you feel uncomfortable. If you’re doing it right, they should feel like crazy talk. The bottom line is, until you start challenging your everyday routines and pushing hard to change them, you’ll NEVER make the huge strides you’re looking for in innovation.
Every organization needs an occasional hard shove to break out of its comfort zone. Sometimes the market gives you that shove (which is always unpleasant). Sometimes that shove comes from within. Consider this post a good, hard, constructive shove.
What questions have you found useful to ask to drive change in your organization? How do you generate innovative solutions?