Search This Blog

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ben’s Blocks

I think we are in a time of discontinuous change. Stands to reason we should be managing for that.

My friend Ben, my longest running client, doesn’t make sales…he creates markets.

Over the past fifteen years he has done that several times, usually when forced by collapsing employers.

He called the other day and said, “Since we last met, I’ve been getting a handle on the block.” First time I heard the word “block.” I think it is entirely appropriate because we don’t find new fields of opportunity, we find opportunities that have stopped everyone who came before.

So as we prepare for another blockbuster, here’s what I see:

Step One – Realizing he has to create a new market. Usually caused by dissatisfaction or collapse somewhere else in his organization.

Step Two – Getting wishes, expectations, and requirements from his employer. Has to be addressed, usually a waste of time, because we have seen again and again that the provider doesn’t know the market requirements, the buyer does.

Step Three – Defining the opportunity. After reflection, Ben will say, “You know, we have this…but the customer wants this…if we do this…we may have something good.”

Step Four – I was once told me my idea of innovation is to go ask ten people I respect what they think about my new idea. He nailed it. For Ben, the next step is putting his ideas on a piece of paper and taking them to his existing customers for improvement. He always gets insightful changes that make perfect sense.

Step Five – Ramming those changes through his employer. The biggest problem is, “We’re not doing it that way.” The second biggest problem is, “That’s not going to work.”

Ben focuses for months, years, finds the people who can make the changes, then finds the people who can approve the changes, and carefully sells each one.

One time he took a Fortune 50 Company from measuring value in eighths of a dollar to tenths of a dollar and created a multi-billion dollar business on the Internet.

Step Six (The part we all love) – Living in the avalanche, leading a business that grows faster than any other part of the organization.

Step Seven – Defending the business from management “refinements” and HR “balancing the compensation curve.”

Step One – Realizing he has to create a new market. Usually caused by dissatisfaction or collapse somewhere else in his organization.

Been there? Done that?