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by Alan Hargreaves

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Entries in innovation (24)


Three rules to stress test your great idea

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Someone is already doing it.

Annoying but true. Whenever you come up with a truly great idea, it’s a 99% certainty that someone, somewhere got there before you.

Good ideas get around pretty quickly these days. At the same time, it’s easy to research them. Even a modest internet search will unearth something similar in a few minutes.

There are three reasons why this is good news.

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Reframe your business thinking

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The lever you need to press is attitude.

We often think we are letting go of old ideas when in reality we are just adjusting our grip. Our lateral notion of change turns out to be cosmetic, not fundamental.

We sometimes see change only in physical terms, like an actual product or an operational process.

Those things are an outcome of change, not a driver of it. What needs to shift first is attitude.

Exactly what is a lateral idea in business?

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Beer Mat Strategy

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A few ideas can be better than a lot.

What was Steve Jobs first strategic call when he returned to Apple in 1997?

According to biographer, Walter Isaacson, he slashed 90% of existing product development. On a whiteboard he drew a simple alternative plan.

It was a two-by-two matrix. The columns were Consumer and Pro; the rows were Desktop and Portable. Four market segments; four products. Everything else was eliminated. Apple was reborn.

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Are you growing or ageing?

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Strategy and the business life cycle.

As a young boy growing up in Sydney, my mother would take me on shopping trips to the city. We would visit at least two of the eight department stores that dominated retail. Housed in monolithic buildings, they had multiple floors of high-ceilinged departments, reached by ornate elevators driven by liveried humans.

 Shortly after, retail changed dramatically. Discount houses arrived; developers discovered suburban malls; big department stores either shut down or were taken over by competitors. Today, only two large players remain.

Some facades still stand. Heritage listed, they form quaint streetscapes at eye level. Look skyward and there are high-rise towers climbing out of the skeletons housing multiple stories of apartments or offices. Retail has left the building.

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Staying bootstrapped

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Keeping cash flow strategies green

Want to reinvent your business? A popular strategy is to return to the startup model. It reinvigorates the enthusiasm and drive that characterize a business launch, spurring innovation and idea generation. 

We see it in notions like “skunkworks” and “idea labs”. The track record, however, is patchy. Ideas emerge, but they often lack traction in the marketplace. Plenty of great innovations are still born; they are long on vision but lack financial discipline.

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