Time to Step it Up!

Good Morning Innovation Leaders, "It's Time to Step it Up!" was what NIST MEP Director Roger Kilmer challenged the MEP Center Directors and the Innovation Engineering community to do this past week at the MEP Quarterly Meeting in San Diego.

To be more specific - it's time to "Step it Up!" with plans for growth.

Your HOMEWORK this week is to take your growth pipeline and STEP IT UP!

Step 1:  DEFINE your Active Projects  Make a list of every active project you and your team are working on.  List every process improvement, sales, marketing, product development project you are investing time, energy and or money on.

The ideal way of recording ideas is to on yellow cards (you can download template from IE Labs web site) - but I'm not picky - a simple list on a chart pad or on index cards works as well.

In a perfect world - you will also have clear "math game plans" for every idea.  You will have done the math on how much each idea will grow your business.  And a list of death threats.  However, again - I'm not picky - for this homework lets at a minimum have a list of how we're investing our time, energy and money.

Step 2: Strategic Sort:  Sort your ideas into three classes of ideas:

Class 1) Ideas that can directly grow NEW Customers,

Class 2) Ideas that can directly grow CURRENT Customers and

Class 3) Ideas that don't directly generate growth.

At Procter & Gamble a key part of our business review each year was how much time, energy and money were spent on Class 3 ideas.  It was called "working" versus "non-working" investments.  Class 1 or 2 ideas were considered Working investments of time, energy and money were those that were focused on growing New or Current customers.

"Non working" projects are perceived to be easier to do than projects for growing New or Current Customers.  They tend to be internal process improvements.  They make people feel like they're being productive.  And to be fair - there are times when they are needed.  However, in a time of limited time, energy and money we need to be vicious in evaluating if we can afford to invest in them.

And, NEVER, EVER should we spend time investing in class 3 ideas in place of Class 1 or 2.  The key word above is "directly."   Last week I had a number of people tell me how their Class 3 idea - could "indirectly, sort of, kind of" generate growth. NO.  I'm talking directly, clearly, meaningfully generate growth!

Step 3: STEP IT UP - Stop, Accelerate, Create:   Time to Step It Up.

STOP work on half the ideas you're working on that don't directly generate growth.  You need to be firm with STOP.  These ideas are like a cancer - they start small and soon they grow. They consume more and more of your time, energy and money - leaving no resources for investing in growth.

ACCELERATE the ideas you are working on that can grow New or CurrentCustomers.  Do this by using the resources freed up by STOPPING work on ideas that are not going to generate growth!

CREATE new ideas.  In particular balance out your portfolio of ideas for Growing Current and New Customers.

Walking the Talk:   The homework I am giving you is what my team will be doing this week.   We have many ideas in the pipeline.  However, we also have lots of "other stuff" that we're doing. (This is a particular problem when you have a culture of continuous innovation - people come up with lots of ideas.)  This week we will STOP some projects.  We will take the resources freed up focus them on ACCELERATING the ideas that can generate meaningful growth of new or current customers.

Good luck this week.

I'll be thinking of you as we're STOPPING, ACCELERATING and CREATING.

Doug Hall