Awkward Reality #210

Do you understand market needs… or market reaction?

210-Validate-Idea

Many B2B producers are stuck at the 2nd of the 4 innovation maturity levels: Solution Validation. When they ask customers to validate their cool new idea, they think they are understanding market needs. They are not. They are simply understanding market reaction… to one idea… their idea. You’ll get far better results by reaching the 3rd maturity level: Market Insight.

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs (page 7).

Awkward Reality #209

It’s better if the project team—not management—stops a project.

209-Stop-Project

No team wants to waste time on a loser: Life is too short. So if management has to stop a project, the team was inexperienced, communicated poorly, or had different expectations than management. All these ailments are addressed by requiring every team to use a common business case template, not their own, start-from-scratch PowerPoint® presentations.

More in article, How Leaders Can Accelerate New-Product Development

Awkward Reality #208

Future B2B companies will have a good laugh at our expense.

208-Laughing-at-Us

We now chuckle at how sales people used to rely on ABC (Always Be Closing) and manufacturers relied on end-of-line inspectors (vs. statistical quality control). But those will pale compared to the way today’s B2B companies test markets: by launching fully-developed products at their customers. When they could have learned customer needs first with some simple interviews. Funny stuff.

More in article, Why will future companies laugh at us?

How to move from unearned growth to earned growth

Weed Growing in patio

A large, unexpected revenue upturn this quarter is good news, right? It certainly feels good, but the satisfaction is fleeting. What you really need is growth that is unrelenting, earned and reliable. When business executives don’t understand the nature of “good” organic growth, they risk three pitfalls. Pitfall 1. “Let’s have a great quarter.” Imagine ... Read More

Awkward Reality #207

Most suppliers expect to grow faster than their served markets. This is usually fanciful thinking.

207-Fanciful-Thinking

On average, you and your competitors will grow at the same rate as the markets you serve. Don’t feel entitled to this. If a competitor develops a blockbuster, you’ll be happy to minimize your sales decline. Thinking otherwise is like 1970’s Detroit auto-makers assuming Japanese competitors would keep producing junk.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 15).

Episode #07

Awkward Reality #206

Delay the urge to converge in product development.

206-Diverge-then-converge

The human brain likes to diverge first (look at all these deserts), and then converge (the chocolate lava cake, please). We shortcut this highly-effective approach when we begin by asking customers if they like our idea, hypothesis, or prototype. First, diverge with an open-minded exploration of all customer needs in B2B-optimized, voice-of-customer interviews. When you converge in a later round of interviews, do so quantitatively, so your confirmation bias doesn’t kick in.

More in e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth (Lesson 16).

Close the Customer Feedback Loop

Without VoC feedback, growth stalls.

Quality guru Edwards Deming taught us that “94% of problems in business are systems driven and only 6% are people driven.” With the right systems, a company will grow and thrive. And few are more important than the “feedback loop.” Unfortunately, this term has been used so broadly that the original and powerful meaning has ... Read More

Awkward Reality #205

Shareholder value: Great result. Lousy goal.

205-Goslings

Increasing shareholder value is simply the result… the “effect.” What’s the “cause”? It’s profitable, sustainable, organic growth. Demonstrate this and stock prices will follow like goslings after their mother. Quit performing for Wall Street analysts, who have never created real value and couldn’t do so if their bonuses depended on it. Instead, work for customers who will appreciate and reward the value you create for them.

More in article, How to become a great business leader

Awkward Reality #204