Entrepreneur Best Practices; #4 Remember “The Law of the Locker Room”… it truly is a small world after all

blog pics, tyler apt,kecia riely 114

“The Law of the Locker room”: after your work (out) is done, there is a high probability others too have seen this pain point the buyers in your market have that you set out to solve and will want to share that space. It does not mean you should quit, it just means; As an Entrepreneur never assume you are the only one who saw the problem and set out to make the pain go away.

As I have mentioned before, I like to work out first thing in the morning. If I wake up before the alarm as if often the case I can workout at my gym Mountainside Fitness at 4:30 am. What I like about working out so early is you pretty much have the gym to yourself. There are a few other crazy people there, but unlike Friday nights at 6:00 pm you can get your work done, without waiting on machines, and you are off to start your day.

What never ceases to amaze me is; “The Law of the Locker room”. Simply stated it goes something like this; no matter what time of day, or how little the number of the cars in the parking lot, nor how many lockers they have in the locker room, when your workout is done and you return to your locker…someone will have the locker right next to you, and you will have to share your space.

So what’s the relevance to entrepreneurs you might say? Well just last week I had lunch with two partners of a start up venture who asked for my help. They shared (an awesome product I plan to blog about after we launch) and I put a bit of a damper on their enthusiasm when I asked one simple question;

“Have you researched to see if others have seen the problem you are setting out to solve, and if so does any of them have patents that your new product violates?”

Entrepreneurs who see problems and set out to solve them must never assume they are the only one who sees this problem.

Entrepreneurs must never assume they are the only one who sees the market problem and they are the only one setting out to solve it.

Like the Disney ride my daughter loved when she was young that’s song still echo’s in my mind “it’s a small world after all…it’s a small, small, world.”

 

disney small world

I recommend my clients: assume others are trying to solve this problem, have solved this pain, and ask yourself why a buyer should choose you over the others?

How do you know if others have or are setting out to solve this problem?

Google

Google your product as if it already was in the market. Google the problem you are setting out to solve. You definitely want to Google the name you plan to call your product. For example I will be launching a seminar to help entrepreneurs late this year. When I Goggled what I had planned to call “my” seminar there were 989,000 entries in Google. As I reviewed them further I found one person pretty much owns what I had planned to call my seminar. I could boldly launch as like most entrepreneurs as I am convinced the other content out there can’t be as good as mine…or I need a new name for my seminar that I can own.

The Market

If the need, the pain, you are trying to solve is big enough, ask people in the market how they make the pain go away today. Find out if what others in the space are doing completely solves your market’s pain, or is a just an incremental solution. What you will often find is most people, if presented with something can poke holes in it. If you are an entrepreneur you have learned what most people can not do it create solutions…that is your gift. So listen to your market, let them share their gifts and apply yours.

Patent Search

This part scares most start ups and seasoned pro’s alike but it is a must if you feel you have a unique product or service. What scares most are the perceived fees, and yes this can get expensive. But let me ask you a question;

What is more expensive in the long run, a Patent search before you launch…or finding out after you launch (and you invest your 401k, loans from family and friends, and use your home equity) that you violate someone else’s patent?

Remember “The Law of the Locker room”: after your work (out) is done, there is a high probability others too have seen this pain point the buyers in your market have. It does not mean you should quit, it just means;

As an Entrepreneur never assume you are the only one who saw the problem and set out to make the pain go away.

How about your organization…..

Has your team launched something only to find many others in that space…after you launched?

How did that make your sales guys feel?

How do you think it made you look in the eyes of your current customers and the market that you did not know?

Have you ever designed-built-launched a perfect solution to your buyer’s pain only to be shut down by a patent violation? (I have, when I did not have grey hair and it sucked!)

The good news is you have the “Entrepreneurial DNA Gene”; you too have a spider sense to see and want to solve pains your buyers have.

They say “reasonable people if given accurate information make reasonable decisions” so please take a few extra steps before you invest and launch your product or service.

And if you do, you can thank me by forwarding a link of this post to your other 9 entrepreneur buddies who may not know the law of the locker room…it’s a small small world after all

Entrepreneur Best Practices; #2 Dismiss or Distribute “Yafo’s” quickly …

flight plan

 

 

Entrepreneurs are an amazing breed. There is nothing like the thrill of launching a new product, service, and or business that perfectly solves a market need. Entrepreneurs are wired differently. It’s as if we have radar for problems and an inner passion to connect and solve them…we can’t turn it off. I share this in my recent pod cast on the struggling entrepreneur.(Episode 101A)

Market leading entrepreneurs understand how to harness and focus this gift, this blessing.

 

As the biblical prophet Jimmy Buffet says…” a blessing becomes a curse if you keep it to yourself”. So it literally drives us nuts to see problems and solutions so crystal clear that it interrupts our drives home at night, our work outs at the gym, and worst of all time with our loved ones. We just can’t seem to shake it.

However this blessing left unchecked can also become a curse with out a filter. Since entrepreneurs see market needs and create solutions, they often can not turn off the opportunity identification gene. At a recent Tie meeting the entrepreneur who had the vision and launched Kaboodle, said it best;

“One area entrepreneurs must learn to manage is YAFO’S”.

 

Yet

 

Another

 

Frickin (edited)

 

Opportunity 

 

One way entrepreneurs can build that ever so needed filter is ;” Buy a Map” as I discussed in a previous post. When you create your road map, or your “flight plan” as I have always called it, it helps you identify opportunities that are along your flight plan and accelerate your sales velocity to your desired destination. Your flight plan also helps you see that the YAFO you have just identified is too far off the current flight plan (would delay your arrival at your goal location) and helps pull your focus back to the current opportunity.

So what do you do with YAFO’s?

 

 

 

  1. learn to dismiss them…quickly
  2. create a new company to serve the opportunity if its large enough
  3. Distribute (sell) your idea to a current leader in that space and get back to your flight plan quickly.

 

 

As I said, entrepreneurs are wired, deep in our DNA, differently. We see problems and opportunities everywhere we go. We just can’t help it. For example my wife and I were out on date night and we went to see a great date night movie; The Ugly Truth. As we were driving home, and having many discussions about the movie, it hit me; someone ought to share the “Ugly Truths “about starting and owning your own business.

 

4 hour work week

 

Far too often the people that come to me have been sold a false, get rich quick, a four hour work week , expectation. Some accomplish this but for most of the entrepreneurs I have worked with over the past 25 years it is hard work and long hours. So I wrote the eBook you can download on my blog; 50 Ugly Truths About Owning and Running Your Own Business, and why you should do it anyway. (I literally could not sleep until I set this idea free)

Market leading Entrepreneurs implement clear flight plans, and they quickly identify YAFO’s for what they are.

 

 

 

 

 

How about your organization…..

 

Do you need a filter? Are you chasing multiple opportunities and not getting anywhere fast?

Are your efforts building sales velocity? Or chasing YAFO’s that are taking you off course?

What do you do when you find a YAFO?

 

A blessing can become a curse if we keep it to ourselves. However we must develop a filter, a flight plan that helps us quickly dismiss or distribute opportunities that are not in alignment with our flight plan.

A lack of focus stalls or decimates sales velocity….if you let it.

 

Not dealing with YAFO’s correctly delays and often derails your flight plan to your goal.

 

 

12 Lessons All Leaders Can Learn About Launching New Products and Services …From the 2009 Health Care Reform

health care mast head

 

 

Watching the current 2009 Health Care Reform Initiative has valuable lessons for all leaders throughout the world if we take time to pay attention. I think it was Einstein who said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. The current 2009 Health Care Reform Initiative has strong emotional attachments regardless of which side of the debate you reside.

It is often the life lessons with emotional attachments we remember most.

 

The goal of my last series of blog posts was to share business lessons leaders can learn from watching and living the 2009 Health Care Reform Initiative. I tried to focus on the business principles and not take a partisan view. If you have read any of my posts you will not be surprised to learn I am a Christian, American, and Republican….in that order. I am proud to be an American and I admit we can always improve as a nation, however having traveled the world I can say first hand how blessed I feel to live in the United States.

pres obama

As for our President, I follow what our Lord taught us in the Bible and I pray for him. I pray the Lord gives him and all our leaders wisdom, discernment, and the courage to act upon what the Lord instructs him to do.( and not those of this world) I have received a number of emails since launching this blog thread. A number of those felt I was “bashing” our President, and if my word choice made you feel that way I apologize.

 

As a man, I have no problem with President Obama and if asked I would welcome the opportunity to be a part of the solution.

 

As our leader I must follow him, support him. If he loses, I lose…we all lose.

 

What I challenge is the process of this initiative.

 

My intension was to ;

 

“focus on the problem and not the person”

 

There are a number of lessons we can glean from watching life lessons before us.

 

I am sure there are many more lessons if thought leaders wish to add content:

 

 

  • the impact of social media on the 2009 Health Care reform Initiative

  • Lessons in leadership when a launch goes bad

  • The cost(s) of change

  • The psychology of change

  • When tempers flair seek first to understand and find common ground

  • …and I am sure there are many more

 

 

12 Lessons All Leaders Can Learn About Launching New Products and Services …From the 2009 Health Care Reform?

 

#1: Without a Clear Definition of the Problem You Want to Solve, You Will Experience “Scope Creep” and Your Launch Plan Will Fail

 

#2: Without a Clear Definition of the Problem You Want to Solve, you cannot write good requirements for your development team

 

#3: Without a Clear Understanding of the Problems to be Solved, and Requirements, Development will Build Solutions Because They Can and Not Because They Should!

 

#4: Your Previous New Product Launch success (or Failures) Affect Current and Future Launches

 

#5: Without a Clear understanding of the Problems your New Product Solves, Marketing will resort to “Buzz Word Bingo” and “Gobbledygook”

 

#6: Without a Road Map Your “Administration” Will Attempt Too Much, Too Fast and Not Achieve Any of Your Goals

 

#7: Asking…and not listening to your market, is worst than not asking at all…

 

#8; Buyers Become Tone Deaf to Lazy Marketing Messaging

 

#9; Make Sure Your Marketing Has All the “Rights” Covered…Fix the Right Problem

 

#10, #11, #12; Make Sure Your Marketing Has All the “Rights” Covered…right time, right customer, right offer

 

What other lessons have you learned, or are learning as we watch the 2009 Health Care Reform Imitative?

 

Is your organization making some of the same mistakes? Why?

 

Are you about to Launch a New Product or Service and you adjusted your plan based on the above 10 posts? If so which posts and how?

 

How can we unite as Americans and stop Blame Storming?

 

Do you feel I was wrong to use this real life emotionally charged lesson to blog about? Why, Why not?

 

2009 Health Care Reform Initiative Lessons #10, #11,#12; Make Sure Your Marketing Has All the “Rights” Covered…right time, right customer, right offer

 

 

A basic marketing tenant says make sure you have all the “rights” covered in your New Product launch, New Service Launch. I discussed solving the right problem in my last post and that leaves the following “rights”; Right Time, Right Customer(s), and Right Offer(s).

Failure to nail all the rights puts your new product and or service launch results in jeopardy of missing ROI targets. Let’s take a quick look at these “rights”.

Right Time       alarm clock

One of the difficulties the Obama administration faced when launching the 2009 Health Care reform initiative was bad timing.

Like companies who have launched products in their markets before they were ready, or failed to meet the expectation set by marketing and sales, the Obama administration could not have launched at a worst time. They followed a failed stimulus from the Bush administration, a failed stimulus from the Obama administration, and they tried to begin their launch in the worst economic conditions the United States has seen arguably since the Great Depression.

When you launch products that are not complete solutions, or are not solving a specific problem, your market at first becomes suspicious, and if you repeat the insanity (doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results) you eventually break the trust in your Brand. When trust is broken you turn loyal customers into shoppers again.

Market leaders understand the importance the right timing plays in hitting their new product launch goals and the ROI’s promised the board and or shareholders.

Market Losers are so in love with their new product they fail to listen, they fail to send out market soundings and often their launches crash into the rocks of bad timing

.2009-08-14-Protester

Right Customer       

In the Book Tuned In the authors discuss how to determine if the problem you are trying to solve should even be considered for development. They discuss the need to determine if the problem is urgent, pervasive (a bunch of folks have it) and most important, is your market willing to pay to solve it?

As we look at the “market “of US consumers we have distinguishable groups that can be segmented: Gen Y’s, Gen X’s, Baby Boomers, and Retired Consumers, consumers without health insurance,…just to name a few.

When you launch a new solution the burden is on you and your organization to clearly understand the problems of each market segment and solve them.

Once you solve problems the burden is also on you to clearly articulate the problem(s) you solved in the voice of the market.

Market Leaders understand the importance of segmenting their markets and speaking to each segment in a voice that they understand.

Market Losers launch with one size fits all solutions that require a salesperson to interpret, and fail to be understood and therefore Miss ROI targets.

 

 

Right Offer        reform bill

When you thoroughly solve problem(s) for specific segmented groups in your market, you create offers that are made to stick. The offer is clear and does not require a rocket scientist or an attorney to understand. These perfect solutions instantly connect and become viral in all your targeted market communities. Social media picks up your solution and cannot wait to share how you solved the problem.

Market Leaders understand and value the impact social media can play in a successful Product launch.

Market Losers use Ready-Fire- Aim new product launches that, not surprisingly end in disaster.

Market Losers do not understand the power of Social Media and how it can be a valuable ally or an incredible foe that literally can cause you to go out of business.

How about your business….

Do you have all the “rights” covered in your next new product and or serve launch?

Are you living a launch disaster now?…tell us about it…

Have you successfully launched a product without having all the “rights” covered? If so, tell us about it.

Do you have clearly defined solutions or are you practicing “Agile Product Launches” …how’s that working for your shareholder value?

Are there other “rights” we need to consider?…Right Channel?….

 

2009 Health Care Reform Initiative Lesson #8; Buyers Become Tone Deaf to Lazy Marketing Messaging

obama head

 

Marketers who build their message from within the perceived safety of their office walls create lazy marketing messages that are perceived as safe, but do not resonate in the marketplace. When marketing and their creative teams build messaging from an inside out approach, versus the market needs and problems in, they create noise and buyers learn to tune out to the noise. If you continue to violate your buyer trust with luke warm messaging that fails to explain the problems you solve for them, your buyers become tone deaf to all you’re marketing.

Scientists who have studied people who are tone deaf have found they lack specific connections in their brains. These individuals have an interruption in the synapses and thus no longer able to distinguish changes in pitch.

Your market becomes tone deaf by hearing repeated messages that do not resonate so they learn to disconnect from your product and your Brand.

The Obama administration is now in that ever so common place entrepreneurs find themselves after rushing to launch without doing the market research and connecting to buyer needs early on. When you launch products with a; Ready-Fire-Aim approach you miss your target and may actually hurt your relationships with buyers in your market.

The current administration was so focused on hitting a launch date (hasting) they compromised the needed upfront strategy work. When this occurs in your business, you launch expecting to sell 3,000 units of your new product or service and in reality you only sell 3.

Market Leaders recognize they have a problem early on, conduct win loss interviews, dive deep into their market to gain understanding (and not sell), and create learning’s.

In the Bible it talks about the sailors sending out “soundings” in the black of the night during storms at sea. What they were doing was listening for land, and more importantly rocks that could sink their ships. The Obama administration needs to be connecting to the market, and listening for soundings and not selling.

Once you learn more about your buyers, their problems, their buying process, buying criteria, and develop buyer personas, you can speak to them in a voice they hear an understand.

Market Losers just tell the same message, over and over again.( hoping this time it sticks)

taxi mex

Market losers are like Americans hiring taxi cabs in foreign countries…if the driver does not speak English…we just speak LOUDER!

Market Losers create Lazy messaging because they failed to do the strategy work upfront and pay in missing ROI targets and more importantly broken brand trust in their market.

If you find yourself in the middle of a storm brought on by underperforming sales to goal…

If you find your marketing team trying to convince you to spend more, have more placements and impressions, you may be dealing with a tone deaf market.

What do Market leaders do?

  • understand the value of spending time upfront in their markets

  • understand buyers and their problems

  • segment those buyers into common groups

  • create buyer persona

  • speak to their buyers in a voice that resonates

  • Constantly send out soundings in their markets, always listening…

 

How about your company…

 

Are you in a Taxi cab In Mexico City trying to speak louder in your market?

Does your team practice; Ready-Fire- Aim Product Launch?

Have you learned to become Tone deaf to the Obama administration messaging?

Is your messaging resonating with your buyers…or is it lazy marketing noise?

Can you afford to have your lazy marketing negatively affect your Brand image in the minds of your buyers?

 

2009 Health Care Reform Initiative Lesson #7: Asking…and not listening to your market, is worst than not asking at all…

header harry michel

A number of organizations are so focused to achieving their objectives that they stop listening to their market. Oh, they ask the right questions, (like they are supposed to) but they only hear the answers that are in alignment with their internal goals, understanding, and historical data. The market (your market) has changed as I discussed in my post interviewing salespeople. So asking open ended questions in your market is imperative to gaining current information and understanding the buying process of today’s market. When organizations ask, but not authentically listen, they create more damage in the trust between their team and their market than if they never would have asked in the first place.

I received an email invitation to attend a telephone town hall being held by Harry Mitchell. What the message said was;

U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell will participate in two live telephone town hall meetings to discuss the issue of health care and health insurance reform on Wednesday, August 26, with individuals residing in Arizona’s Fifth Congressional District.

“I believe that the telephone town hall format maximizes the ability to engage respectfully on the issue with folks across the district,” Mitchell said. “Reaching more people and taking more questions provides an opportunity to constructively listen to the thoughts, concerns and opinions of people and to answer their questions about the proposals in Congress.  I also want to highlight the provisions where there is bipartisan agreement and on benchmarks I believe should be met in order to gain my support.”

I have followed Harry Mitchell since moving to Arizona and what appeals to me is he seems to be a regular guy, someone I could call and have a conversation with. Someone, unlike a number of representatives in Washington, he is one of us. On his website he does a much better job than the Obama administration in clearly stating his views;

As I meet with people throughout the district, many have shared with me personal stories about health care.  Like most Arizonans, I believe that rising costs and the threat of losing existing coverage is cause for great concern.

Our health care system needs reform and I believe that it should be comprehensive. Reform should not only improve access to affordable and quality care for all Americans, but it also needs to also preserve individual choice and protect competition in the marketplace.  Reform should not leave individuals with fewer options, should not add to the national deficit, and should not leave doctors with inconsistent and low reimbursement rates as is often the case with Medicare.

This page closes with:

While our advances in the health care system are the envy of the world, too many Arizona families and businesses are facing skyrocketing costs, the threat of losing coverage, or denied care by their insurance companies.  Reform needs to protect what works and fix what doesn’t.  Any solution must first start with an open and honest conversation that gives all of the stakeholders in the debate a seat at the table.  That includes you.

As legislation works its way through Congress, I will continue to review the bill and monitor its changes.  I have also created this resource page where you can also read the bill, access information about the legislative process, and contact me with your thoughts.

Awesome, he clearly has done what I ask business leaders to do;

go out into your market, discover their needs and unresolved problems listen and do not try to overcome their objections…

Here’s my concern; Is a telephone conference call truly the best venue for you Harry, and your brand?

I do not think so, and I think it will be the biggest strategy mistake in your career….but I may be wrong. For me it is an interruption in your Brand. But then again all who Am I? I live in Arizona, I am a Republican, and I help business people connect with their markets which ultimately results in explosive growth. However, what this “feels” like is you are trying to control the voice of the customer. Whoever recommended a telephone conference, in my opinion, should be asked to serve in another capacity on your staff. I thought it might just be me, so I asked a number of friends, and unfortunately perception is reality and the perception is you are afraid, and you want to control the venue. The reality may be you truly want to serve more people in a better way; however the execution does not match your Brand so we are Branding you by Default.

I tried to sign up for the telephone conference but your web site said;

Note: Due to heavy traffic, we are experiencing delays with our email system. If you encounter difficulties, please return later and try again.

Did you not expect heavy traffic? Did your advisor not research what was necessary to support this venue, support you?

Here’s the problem, we the American people have lost trust. The shame is you “feel” like a great , Authentic guy next door, (like someone I wrote about ), however this teleconference “feels” like you will be “telling and selling” not listening.

It feels like you are trying to control the voice of your customers and shape a confirmation of what you already believe and not listen and learn.

When you ask buyers why they do not buy, most think it is price, or the product is not right…but what buyers tell you the top two reasons are;

#1 the salesperson did not listen

#2 they did not understand my problem

Keep in mind, as consumers, we Love to buy…we hate being sold!

I truly hope your motivation was to reach more people and provide a positive venue to address real questions. I was not able to participate but I hope to hear from those that do. However, if you are trying to control the voices of your marketplace, stop, and have someone on your staff buy you a copy of a book titled: World Wide Rave.

How about your business…

Are you asking and not listening?

Are you trying to validate and support your beliefs or are you authentically listening and connecting to unmet needs?

Are you “selling and telling” or listening and solving?

Did you attend the teleconference? How did it make you “feel”?

You see, at the end of the day how markets “feel” about you, your company, your Brand, and if you and your team authentically Listens, Understands, and solves my problems affect their purchase decisions. Each purchase is a vote of confidence.

2009 Health Care Reform Initiative Lesson #4: Your Previous New Product Launch success (or Failures) Affect Current and Future Launches

 

 

At the Austin Pcamp last weekend I was speaking with a young product manager and he shared sales and marketing do not seem to be embracing his current new product launch. The first thing I asked him was;

Have you launched other products or solutions recently expecting to sell 60,000 (and that was the sales goal) and you only sold 6…”

His answer was “Yes, how did you know that?”

I explained the one thing about having grey hair is I earned each one,and I went on to explain

“… you have a trust and credibility issue within your team and probably market you must fix first.”

As a salesperson and someone who has lead sales teams it is hard not to become a bit skeptical when marketing and product management “throws another new product over the wall for my team to sell”.

 It is particularly difficult to get excited about a new product opportunity when marketing and product management have throw two previous solutions over the wall and my team was given a goal for 60,000 and we only sold 6.

So I explained to this ( now wide eyed) young product manager that once you break trust with your sales and marketing team, once you no longer have credibility among your team members you have a much bigger problem you need to solve first. (And you need to solve it quickly)

I asked him a number of questions and the one that seemed to make him most uncomfortable was;

When the last product launch failed and sales was out in the market banging their heads against the wall trying to sell it (so they get paid) and you were at corporate…did you attend any meetings with your leadership team and when asked why the product is not selling…did you throw sales under the bus?”

big bus

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2009 Health Care Reform Initiative Lesson #3: Without a Clear Understanding of the Problems to be Solved, and Requirements, Development will Build Solutions Because They Can and Not Because They Should!

ipod bathroom 

 

Where a number of entrepreneurs make a costly mistake is in jumping into a new product launch and making a product launch checklist  without spending an adequate amount of time gaining an intimate market knowledge and building strategy. When this occurs, developers and engineers (Representatives) build things because they can not because they should.

How do we end up with a 1,000 page bill? ( few have read, and fewer understand?) Or an ipod station and toilet paper holder? Or a laptop that smells?…. ( by design)

Without a clear understanding of the problem you want to solve, and clear requirements and not understanding who you are solving them for, you will build stuff.

Developers are creative problem solvers. They want to be given problems and requirements. They go nuts if you also tell them how to solve it. Just as salespeople hate it when accounting tries to tell them how to sell more.

The inherent problem though lays in the fact developers also see problems that are real to them, that may not be market problems. So they have their “wish list” of solutions they want to introduce.

If you lack a clear definition of the problems you want to solve and the requirements needed and just “throw a challenge over the wall” two things will happen;

1. Development will create a perceived list of problems and prioritize them themselves.

2. Without a clear direction, they will build what they always wanted to build and not necessarily what the market needs or wants.

What happens next is even more dangerous. So you have shared your “big hairy audacious goal” with your market: “A Health Care reform bill before the August break”.

Not having a connection to the problems your team will connect to something…so the August goal is clear, measureable and written so they rally to meet that goal.

The achievement of the goal date becomes more important than solving the unresolved market problem.

When this occurs your team tunes out the market and its needs and tunes into the leaders goal ( and often ego).

Teams aligned around the wrong goal “tell and sell” versus “teach and share the problems they solved” and markets often rebel.

Buyers like to buy; they do not like to be sold.

With the power of social media, and the lack of alignment to the correct goal, a solution can launch and die within hours.

Market leaders understand the value in spending the time upfront, clearly defining the problem(s) they want to solve and developing requirements that set their developers up to win, and ultimately add value to the bottom line of the organization.

Market Losers are so focused on a delivery goal they Haste, and they waste. Focus on the wrong goal results in their team members thrashing around, starting and stopping and not able to develop revolutionary solutions that the market willing buys.

 

How about your organization….

 

Does your team throw things over the wall?

 

Do your developers ask for more information and the prioritization of requirements, or do they assume they know.

 

Has your company launched something because you could and not because you should? ….How’s that working for you?

2009 Health Care Reform Initiative Lesson #2: Without a Clear Definition of the Problem You Want to Solve, you cannot write good requirements for your development team

house of card

 

Without a clear understanding of the problem(s) you want to solve, how can you write the requirements needed in the solution your development team creates? They will assume the problems and will try solve those with  assumed requirements as facts. The farther the requirements move from actual market problems that you have agreed you need solved, the farther the final product solution will be from something that resonates in your marketplace.

In this case congress was asked to create a Health Care Reform bill with the lack of a clear understanding of problems they were to solve and my guess is they therefore did not have prioritized requirements that clearly explain what the final solution must do, and for whom. Couple this with being given an aggressive product launch date for your solution and you will experience what my father used to call: Haste makes waste. ( sound familiar, I have faced this many times)

Like congress, business owners use their gut and intuition at a time they should be gaining an intimate knowledge of their market, their buyers, buying process and buying criteria.

I am confident everyone “worked hard”, but I am also convinced without a clear understanding of problems to be solved they could not have “worked smart”.

What we are now experiencing with the 2009 Health Care Reform Initiative is symptomatic of leaders lacking market intelligence and a clear understanding of the problem(s) they are to solve. We see entrepreneurs with a vision boldly launching their solution into their markets only to find what they “thought” was a brilliant idea( their wife and golf buddies thought so) does not resonate with their customers and potential buyers. As I wrote in my post: Nail it before you scale it, you must completely solve the identified problems before you scale them. Scaling products that are not complete solutions only results in a lack of understanding among your customers and is often perceived as self serving, and an inside-out focused Market Loser, versus a market serving , Market Leader.. When this occurs you break trust.

Once trust is broken with buyers in your marketplace they are never won back 100%, and it will cost you dearly.

When you lack a clear definition of the problems you wish to solve you can not write requirements that are of value to the development team.

Without clear requirements, your development team will work very hard to solve the assumed problems they think you want solved and the perceived needs you “throw over the wall”. We not only need a list of the problems and defined requirements but development would also value the prioritization of those requirements.

Without open and clear communication development will decide the prioritization, again further drifting form market problems and solutions to urgent and pervasive needs.

One symptom of this is development spending more time defending what they built versus building new solutions your market wants to buy.

How about your organization….

 

Are you asking your development and or engineering to develop solutions without a clear understanding of the problem they are setting out to solve?

 

Does your development team have requirements or are they left to guess and assume?

 

Do you find your development team working “hard” or “smart”? Why or why not?

 

Do you find the quality of problem definition and the prioritization of requirements has an inverse relationship to the amount of time given for the solution to be launch?

2009 Health Care Reform Initiative Lesson #1: Without a Clear Definition of the Problem You Want to Solve, You Will Experience “Scope Creep” and Your Launch Plan Will Fail

reform bill

 

Without a clear definition of the problem(s) you solve with your new product or service you will experience scope creep and your team will thrash around. When you thrash around you have a number of starts and stops without completely solving each individual initiative. Not only is this behavior ineffective but it is costly and often dangerous.

Fundamentally I agree, if what the news media tells us is true regarding; the number of uninsured Americans, the rising costs of care, the rising costs of caring for uninsured Americans,… that there is a problem that needs to be solved. However I do not understand the problem, or problems we are trying to solve with the 2009 Health Care Reform Initiative, nor how the over 1,000 page proposal solves them.

I see this frequently with entrepreneurs. They discover what they perceive to be an unresolved market problem and the solution is crystal clear (to them) so they launch. They take out 2nd mortgages, they cash in their 401k, and they ask family and friends for support. (Money) They share their brilliant idea with their buddies on the golf course to validate their idea and everyone says… ”brilliant idea”. However very quickly they learn an expensive lesson when they expect (and have created the support) to sell 60,000 units and only sell 2.

Without a clear definition of the Problem you solve your New Product Launch Plan will fail.

Instead of clearly defining the problem, quantifying the need, making sure people want and will pay money to solve that problem they broaden their scope. Now they have a number of messages floating in their market that are Luke warm at best and none clearly articulate how you solve any problems for buyers in your marketplace. None are connecting with anyone.

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