Often we enter familiar markets with new products and drive ahead using the same process that got us to where we are today. Is that always the best thing to do? While the waters are the same, are we able to navigate a straight course using the standard techniques?
This question hit me this morning on my morning swim in the lake. We are in that transitional period where early morning fog is prevalent in lower areas and, yes, around the lake. I usually enter while the sun is just below the horizon and today was no different. The key difference, I could not see a single buoy that we use to mark the course because of the fog on the water. However, I have swum this enough that I know where they are. Right?
After needing to get within about 4 yards to see the first buoy, I realized that I needed to slow down and modify my stroke to maximize straightness, not speed. The potential outcome on no change would be somewhere out in the middle of the lake in a fog. One of my friends did not adjust until he stopped and realized he could not touch bottom which means he was farther out than we normally go. He listened and heard the sound of others and headed that way, finding the buoys. Good thing he picked his head up to check. Once the sun was up and the fog lifting, we could all maximize for speed and just occasionally check buoys .
This is the same as you bring new products to market. You need to test the market as it may not be as clear as you previously thought it was. There are many tools out there to help you hit the buoys. You can try a Stage Gate process, Outcome Driven Innovation®(Strategyn), or just good cross-functional three legged stool team work with marketing, technology, and operations keeping each other honest.
The key is take your time and look for the buoys. They are there. You need to be check and recheck your course, be diligent and be patient. Once you clearly see the buoy, go like crazy because you will know the direction and the outcome. Remember, there may be lots of buoys set to get you to the end. Use them!!
Have a great week! Contact me with any ideas or suggestions. Always looking for that next idea or buoy to help guide me to the future.