Most strategists have an opportunity evaluation framework in their toolkits. It is used to score ideas and opportunities on two vectors.
First, is this a good idea? Does it create value for customers? Is the technology required for the idea mature enough for use with real customers? Is the market very competitive? Are there structural barriers to sustain a competitive advantage?
Second, is this a good idea for us? Does it fit with our current competencies? Do we have the knowledge and skill to do this? Does the proposed product/service fit with our brand? Do we have access to the markets, channels, and customers who would want this product or service?
However you weigh them, these sorts of frameworks will almost always kill radical ideas. And they will prioritize ideas and opportunities that are closest to your core business today. Moreover, the rest of the organization will usually support the kill. Corporate antibodies will come out of the woodwork with dozens of (good) reasons why something can’t be done. Businesses are optimized to deliver their current product/service, and new ideas are disruptive. For example, Nike+ required new engineering capabilities, new skills in sensor technology and tracking, new product support, new retail and go-to-market partners; the list goes on. These were not traditional skills for Nike.
Yet it is the radical ideas that have the capacity to create tremendous value for an organization. These are the ideas that ultimately deliver visionary transformation that sets the company on a new trajectory. From iPod and Apple’s music store to Paypal, product level decisions can change a company completely. So how can strategists and business people make space for radical ideas?
How do you nurture an environment in which new products and services beyond the organizations current “way things are done” are allowed to take root? How do you allow product strategy to alter corporate strategy?