Innovation of Business

and the
Business of Innovation™
 
Dimensions of Innovation

Essential Elements

Let’s talk about dimensions for a moment.  How many dimensions does it take to describe the shape of a simple box?

Silly question, right?  And easy to answer.  It takes three dimensions to fully describe the shape of a box.  Length, width, height.  In mathematical lingo, we need the dimensions of X, Y, and Z.  With those, we can fully describe the shape of the box and anything in or outside it.

Then how many dimensions does it take to describe a box?  Hmmm?  No, that’s not the same question.  Before we only asked for shape.  Now we want color, materials, texture, strength, durability, ability to hold liquids, how it opens, and more.  Suddenly, we find a seemingly endless possible number of dimensions.  Just for a box!

Now, how many dimensions does it take to describe a product?  A business?  A market-place?  A customer?  Think for a moment.  Let the flow of possibilities begin.  Frankly, the whole idea is intimidating.  Overwhelming!  No place to start… and if we do, then when will it ever stop?

As daunting as it seems, we have no choice.  We need visions to guide strategy.  Requirements for products.  Scale of business initiatives.  Language to attract customers, investment, alliances, and employees.  Paths to enduring win-win relationships.


Knowing dimensions enables focus on issues most likely to drive customer satisfaction, preference, buying decisions, profitability, growth, and market leadership.  Clarity rationalizes thought processes.  Though dimensions do interact, we can focus on one at a time, then synthesize.


Clarifying business and product scope is a core responsibility of respective innovators.  Failing to ask the questions is failure to adequately define the concept.


Shared language enables application of methods below to innovation of businesses within companies as well as entrepreneurship.

Need:  An urgent requirement for something essential that is lacking

Customer: Someone with a need

Product:  Something that meets a need

Business:  An ongoing entity which develops and offers products in exchange for payment

Company:  A commercial organization with one or more businesses

Brand Concept:  Value promise attached to name, slogan, and logo

Brand:  Mental and emotional acceptance of the value promise.  Brands live in the minds of people.

 

Business Pre-Planning™

Just four dimensions can design a business.  Of course, each dimension is multi-dimensional, and those sub-dimensions may also be multi-dimensional.

Identity:  Who we are and want to become

Goals / Objectives:  Where we want to go

Strategies:  How we intend to get there

Culture:  What we value and how we intend to behave

Every business makes these decisions either consciously or by default.  Optimally, we define our business by who we want to become in both identity and culture.  Then we choose durable goals as long-term strategic directions and select strategies that will help us reach those goals.  In practice, the process is more iterative.  Each decision impacts others.  Only by considering all decisions in the context of a synthesized vision do we really define the business.


Results can be dramatic.  Entrepreneurs accelerate maturity.  Older businesses revive growth and momentum.  Results incorporate both enforced change (e.g., globalization) and options for self-initiated change (e.g., growth as an e-business).


Strategic Identity™:  The identity class of decisions has at least nine dimensions.  This process has been applied to companies, businesses, divisions, functions (e.g., R&D), products, services, projects, technologies, events, strategies, and management initiatives.

Name:  The first point of connection to the minds of customers.  Best chosen after the business is well understood.

Focus:  What the business is and does.  Functions performed, features required.  Products and services offered. Functional class ? the competitive arena.  Short description ? a brief statement of functionality.

Customers:  Choice of markets, segments.  Characterizations of customers and types of individuals involved in purchase decisions. 

Needs:  Urgent requirements that drive investment and sales of products.  Consequences of not meeting the needs.  Distinct lists for each target market segment and distinct product.

Benefits:  Results of meeting needs.  Customers buy benefits, not features.  Investors seek value returns, not stock ownership.  Ideal development designs to meet needs, not to produce organization or products.

Uniqueness:  Differentiation from alternatives.  Competitors ?  those seeking the same customers with similar products.  Competitive factors ? ways customers choose between alternatives.  Comparisons ? how well each competitor does on each factor.  Differentiation ? the specific, unique features and value that distinguishes this business.

Position:  A suite of perceptions so highly desired that it drives all operations.  Market position ? what the market currently believes.  Desired position ? what we want the market to believe.  Perception gaps ? differences between market and desired perceptions.  Slogan ? the core essence of the desired position stated in a few words.

Mission:  A statement of purpose and strategic direction.

Value Promise:  Commitment to deliver specific value to specific stakeholders over time.

Working through each dimension defines the business, clarifying what already exists and opening new possibilities.  Conscious choices enable conscious leadership and management.  Completeness counts.  An ignored dimension becomes a weakness.


Synthesis of decisions integrates prioritized lists and wordsmithed statements into a compact statement of identity (500-600 words) beginning with context and ending with the value promise.  A formal core message (200-300 words) tests compatibility of statements of context, functionality, market, uniqueness, position, mission, and brand concept.  A condensed version (100 words) and “elevator speech” (50 words) expose the business’ core concept.


The core message becomes the heart of business communications from planning to advertising.  Indeed, the message sets context and requirements for every business action.  Contrary actions confuse customers and hurt brand.  Brand equity is, of course, the single most valuable possession of any business.


Integrated Strategy™:  Identity sets requirements for products, yet businesses require more.  Products are made, sold, and serviced.  Businesses operate, relate, and manage flows of resources and investments.

Goals:  Durable strategic directions.  Changing goals implies substantial changes in business identity, operations, and culture.  Goals contribute to identity.

Goals nest.  Goals of functional departments, for instance, fit within corporate goals.  Whether organized as hierarchy, heterarchy, or netarchy, effective goals form a self-consistent set in which all actions eventually lead to achievement of corporate goals.

Objectives:  Clearly defined, achievable, assignable, time-able, and measurable near term results toward which to work.  Milestones of practical significance clearly on the path to one or more goals.

Objectives drive action and change with plan period.  “A man on the moon within this decade”  was achieved one objective at a time.  Objectives are delegated, nominally with provision of resources to accomplish the objective.

Strategies:  Specific methods for reaching objectives.  A business model is an overall guiding strategy.  A core strategy is a category of methods (e.g., marketing) that provides strategic direction, yet will evolve over time.  Strategies nest.  (e.g., booth within trade show within marketing communications within product launch within strategic marketing)

Integrated Strategy:   A tightly linked suite of methods, connected, timed, and coordinated to achieve a specific set of objectives.  Initiatives are temporary.  Value chains, supply chains, and distribution chains endure.  Everything from business launch to minor projects are completed via integrated strategies.

Identity and goals set strategic focus.  Business model and strategy then define and design the business.  Managing ongoing implementation is precisely managing the business.


A strategic approach to business sets goals first, then chooses strategies.  A tactical approach identifies possible actions, then implements them.  A strategic approach leads change with a focus on long-term desired results.  A tactical approach reacts to change with a flurry of actions.


Integrated Character™:  Culture is the sum of characteristic and distinguishing attitudes, habits, and convictions of a particular business and its people at a particular time.  Corporate culture often evolves unguided, yet always impacts business performance.  Perhaps the key to managing culture is to let go of the idea of control.  Culture lives in the minds of people.  Management can never own culture; they can only influence it through conscious, visible decisions.

Options for such decisions abound.  These have proven useful.

Core Roles:  A behavior beyond title or function, assumed by an individual, team, or whole business, as shown in behaviors, responsibilities accepted, and commitments to action.  e.g., change agent, leader, strategist, opportunity generator.

Value System:  A complex mix of ethical and ideological values and beliefs that influence decisions, either consciously or unconsciously.

Principles:  Basic rules of behavior or basic truths that guide behaviors. 

Driving Factor:  A fundamental motivation to achieve that characterizes the way an organization, team, or individual approaches a market.  e.g., ego for confidence, product for something to sell, sales to make money, customer to know what is needed, needs to recognize products of the future. 

Vision:  A shared mental picture of the history the business wants to make. 

If not developed and honored as a business, culture will be built piecemeal under influences of personal biases, time pressures, and marketplace factors.  Conflicting ideas and visions create friction and resulting inefficiencies.  To truly lead the business, proactively develop culture.

 

Innovation by Dimension

A business standing still is already dying.  We must innovate to survive.  On the other hand, business is so complex that we can flounder rather than lead.  Dimensions create focus and ensure thoroughness of innovation.  Each set of decisions fits into larger syntheses.  Products can be driven by Strategic Identities.  Businesses also need Integrated Strategy and Integrated Character.


Use these dimensions or innovate your own.  Acquire processes or innovate.  Whatever your path, base your innovations on complete understanding of their full potential.  Enable your decision making, then empower decision synthesis rich enough to keep you in control of your business and products.

 

Essential Elements

Let’s talk about dimensions for a moment.  How many dimensions does it take to describe the shape of a simple box?

Silly question, right?  And easy to answer.  It takes three dimensions to fully describe the shape of a box.  Length, width, height.  In mathematical lingo, we need the dimensions of X, Y, and Z.  With those, we can fully describe the shape of the box and anything in or outside it.

Then how many dimensions does it take to describe a box?  Hmmm?  No, that’s not the same question.  Before we only asked for shape.  Now we want color, materials, texture, strength, durability, ability to hold liquids, how it opens, and more.  Suddenly, we find a seemingly endless possible number of dimensions.  Just for a box!

Now, how many dimensions does it take to describe a product?  A business?  A market-place?  A customer?  Think for a moment.  Let the flow of possibilities begin.  Frankly, the whole idea is intimidating.  Overwhelming!  No place to start… and if we do, then when will it ever stop?

 


 

20. “The ecology of innovation is about the space, time, culture, relationship, infrastructure, and atmosphere which form an environment that nourishes innovation.” Unfolding the Innovation Cube, Ron Dvir, Edna Pasher, and Norman Roth.

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