Business Success: Intersection Between Great Ideas and Superior Execution

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Try to Arm-Wrestle a Happy Meal

Consider a restaurant that produces the best hamburger in town. Will that alone let them defeat a nearby McDonalds? No. McDonalds has an excellent business model, is surprisingly fast/consistent with it's delivery, and maintains relatively low cost. Their margins are likely considerably bigger than the restaurant and as such they can afford to hire more people and react better to poor economic conditions. The restaurant, if it expects to survive, will reposition itself to handle niche clientele like people who insist on eating cows that have died from natural deaths or simply want better cuts of meat.

Prototype It

That leaves one with the million-dollar question: how should an organization source great ideas and test out its execution model? Ultimately the answer is through prototyping, but before delving into that you must run two queries first: am I too early or am I too late?

There are two ways to develop an idea -- make it up yourself or steal it from somebody else. Whichever method you use you will be left with an untested idea. In order to have even a modicum of success you will have to mate that idea to a hungry market. 'Hungry' means has money and wants to spend it on said solution. Few ideas translate into instant successes so your idea may fall into one of two categories -- ones that are too early or ones that are too late for the market. If it is too early the perceived need has not materialized into a priority in the minds of the customer base. If it is too late they are committed to something else and there is no burning desire to get rid of it.

You can literally waste tens of thousands of dollars trying to convert a market that is entrenched into a particular way of doing something. A better strategy would be so shelve the idea or put it on some kind of life support and wait for the old way to contribute to some great calamity or disaster. Then you can ride the coattails of the press and offer your solution to a listening public.

It Will Not Be Free

Before you run ahead and try and sell the solution you still have to prove that it works and discover how much it will cost to produce. Prototypes take some money to produce so you should expect to spend a bit making one. Your prototype has to be a working prototype. It does not have to have all of the bells and whistles as the finished product but it has to actually work. Get it reviewed by someone knowledgeable, preferably more than one such person, and you are likely ready to start selling after you've solved all of the cost/profitability issues and regulatory concerns (if any exist).

Convincing people with the right qualifications to test out your software (a process that will take time since they will have to understand it before they can do so) can be a daunting task if you are not willing to pay them. Sometimes there is really no way around it. The egalitarian has to eat too, so factor this into your costs.

On the subject of costs, it makes no sense agreeing to produce a flying car if at the end of your analysis the per-unit cost is $10MM and your target customers are willing to pay around $30K. What you are producing must be within the customer's budget.

It's Like Brownian Motion

It would be foolish to assume that there is always a straight path between prototypes and salable products. It is actually much more like a circuitous path with many stops and starts. One thing that helps is the regular infusion of fresh ideas into the mix. Stopping one's work and reviewing similar or in some cases different works by others can help solve seemingly insurmountable problems.

Prototyping Versus System Design

The catch-22 about prototyping is that you have to establish that it works. The countervailing force is the belief that diagramming and object-oriented (OO) analysis techniques are all that is needed to produce a workable prototype of the system. In other words, there is a school of thought that says prototyping is a waste of time and that the OO diagrams are sufficient to describe the system sans code.

The jury is out as to which method is better. If you can convince people to accept that a design is viable without ever building any of it then, from a cost perspective, it is preferable to continue down that route. Otherwise, however, users seem to want the functional prototype.

Viral Growth Pattern

After your system prototype works and you can demonstrate how it is vastly better than alternatives the objective should be to infect every passerby that is susceptible to its advantages with it. In other words, in today's marketplace for informatics systems you will need to go viral. Your competition will likely catch on to the advantages of your solution and will commence refactoring it overnight. You must beat them to the customers and entrench them first. Like a virus, this is most easily done at places where the customer base gathers, like conferences, etc. Offer insane deals, get noticed, and push your product like day old bread.

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Citation: Business Success: Intersection Between Great Ideas and Superior Execution. (2014). Retrieved Thu Apr 19 15:13:32 2018, from;iid=readMore;go=1413227486