Are you stuck? Enter through the side door

by James on March 26, 2009

Side DoorFinding effective business innovation is difficult. It is especially difficult for entrepreneurs because they are so close to their business.

How do I do it? How do I find the new insight, the business innovation that will take me to the next level?

One way is to get some outside help to find the side door.

I once helped a successful consulting practice identify their positioning. They had grown to a point where further growth was being hampered by their past. They understood that what got them here wasn’t going to get them there. They needed some help binding the business innovation they needed to take the next step.

We went through an exercise I call the 5 second drill. In essence you have to answer a series of questions about your business so briefly they can be read in 5 seconds. This is hard, but it helps focus your efforts on what’s essential.

The end goal was a new positioning, a statement that would guide their business. A positioning they could own, that was competitive and that would motivate prospective customers. That’s where we ran into trouble. They couldn’t shake free from the past.

After some time away from the problem we met again but this time we went at the problem through the side door. We returned to one of the questions, “Why have you been successful?” and dug into their initial response. I focused the discussion on underlying principles, the real reasons why they had been successful, what was underneath what they’d said earlier. At the end they knew what their positioning needed to be.

Hip Shots

  • An outside perspective can be of great value when you are exploring new terrain, when you are trying to find the business innovation that will help move you forward.
  • Don’t beat on the front door when it’s locked. Find a side door you can use to get to a solution.
  • The answer is probably already there. Go back through your thinking and identify the underlying factors. Build a new idea from there.

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