Allow others to build their success around your own success

14Sep09

Among the more stimulating blogs occupying my RSS reader is Kevin Kelly‘s KK Lifestream. One specific post a couple of weeks ago — Maximize the opportunities of others — really got me thinking about how I might solve the “reinventing Mike” challenge, particularly this (abridged) aspect:

In every aspect of your business (and personal life) try to allow others to build their success around your own success. If you run a hotel, what can you do to permit others–airlines, luggage retailers, tour guides–to be part of your network?

You want to entice others to create services centered around the customer attention you have won, or to supply add-ons to your product, or even, if it is a new-fangled idea, to create legal imitations.

When confronted with a fork in the road, if all things are equal, go down the path that makes the opportunities of others plentiful.

This got me wondering: Could my dormant asset, i.e., the core decision processes from my sales training regime, enable me to create something that others could build on and thereby magnify?

To understand my thinking, please indulge me in a brief background explanation.

In the ’80s, two very smart guys and IT lifers, Garret Sheldon and Dennis McDaniel, invented a reliable people-process to help stakeholder groups make informed, trusted, sustainable decisions quickly, using internal talent. [They had previously proved its adaptability and effectiveness worldwide: Former mainframe computer maker Amdahl licensed it globally; its sales force used it to help IT executives make IT investment decisions that aligned with corporate strategy.]

Garret, Dennis and I had met many years before but had lost touch.  They reconnected during the dot-boom and asked me to help them adapt their decision process for web delivery. While updating me on their progress since the early version I’d last seen, we discovered that the core elements of their group decision process aligned exactly with the diagnostic and prescriptive thought processes and principles underpinning my sales training approach.

I asked some of their decision clients who had used these decision processes to assess their practical and economic impact. Their almost uniform estimate was “an order of magnitude” (10x) decrease in the difficulty and time required to make a decision and the same degree of improvement in the decision’s reliability, i.e., ability to retain buy-in and support during implementation. Finally, most estimated ROI at 10x total process cost, which included internal executive time.

I’ll end this backgrounder by saying that we were tardy to the late-’90s capital-raising party. Starved for cash and having invested way too much of our own money in development and biz dev, we put the web-enabled decision technology in cryogenic freeze and retreated to our respective consultancies to lick our wounds and repair our personal finances.

Fast forward to KK’s blog post and you see where I’m going with this. Could the web-enabled DecisionSCAN technology (as it was then branded) serve as the central engine around which we could build the kind of value constellation KK encouraged?

I buried myself in research to find out whether or not

  1. this issue would yield a reliable Demand Trigger, i.e., organizations acknowledged that decision-making was difficult enough to be a real problem, or was merely a solution in search of a problem,
  2. it had a high-enough Cost of Doing Nothing, i.e., was of sufficient strategic, operational, economic and personal impact that the cost of not acting on and investing in solving it was unacceptable
  3. our own decision process could expose and facilitate sufficient stakeholder alignment for them to make a decision and take action on it.

Next: Unearthing the potential Demand Trigger needle from the Google haystack.

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2 Responses to “Allow others to build their success around your own success”

  1. Mike,

    A decision support app delivered as an online service (SaaS) sounds like a great idea. Multiple participants… many projects… perfect for a db-backed web app (sorry, showing my age).

    While Kelly’s posting may have kicked off the idea of resurrecting the app, there’s obviously a lot of “regular” blocking and tackling to do after you decide there’s demand for the app and “beatable” (or little) competition. Prototyping, marketing to public, marketing to partners (consultants – Kelly’s point), marketing to investors, operating, etc.

    From my POV, since you guys started this before the Web really took off, the real value – which dwarfs Kelly’s partner extensible pitch – is in bringing the idea to the buyer in an easy to consume product package – where “package” has more than one dimension – a subscription based web app (pricing and delivery mechanism). (low cost to operate too)

    Anyways, my 2 cents (adjusted for inflation),
    Alan

  2. Thanks, Mike. This is good stuff. I’m intrigued. DOUG


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