Is your organization Best-In-Class? - by Woody Bendle
"Out there in some garage is an entrepreneur who’s forging a bullet with your company’s name on it. You’ve got one option now – to shoot first.” Gary Hamel
Innovation is an interesting phenomenon. Nearly all businesses exist because at one point or another, they identified an opportunity to create and deliver new value to the market. Whether through a new best-in-class product or service, entrepreneurs often see unique ways to exploit the vulnerabilities of incumbent firms and as a result, start a new innovative business. However, as the business scales it often puts in place highly efficient, and often inflexible, innovation-killing processes in order to minimize costs and maximize profits.
I’ve always found this ironic! The very thing that helped to create this successful business in the first place (innovation), becomes more and more difficult the larger and more successful the business gets. And this is the very point of Hamel’s quote above; you cannot ever stop innovating. Because once you do, someone is going to eat your lunch – that is an economic certainty!
One of the challenges for companies (in particular businesses in Western cultures) is the prevailing notion that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well guess what, the current pandemic crisis just broke a whole lot of business models. Many are no longer able to rely on what worked just a few short weeks ago. In order to be successful in the coming post pandemic economy, you have to innovate!
Creative Thinking Exercise for Creating Best-in-Class
A valuable creative thinking exercise I’ve developed and used with repeated success over the years is one I call “Best-In-Class.” This exercise is useful for developing ideas for all types of innovations, but I’ve found it particularly valuable for inward facing Structure and Process innovations.
The idea behind the Best-In-Class creative thinking exercise is to identify and explore the things your organization is currently doing really well - that is, it that would be considered best-in-class; and then develop ideas for making them even better.
This exercise has the following six steps:
1) List all of the things your organization is doing that are best-in-class
These should be things where you are without peer in your category.
2) List the all of the reasons why each is best-in-class
What is truly unique about each one?
How does it provide you a competitive advantage?
How does it create unique value for your customers?
3) List all of the reasons why each thing might actually be limiting for your busine List all of the reasons why each thing might actually be limiting for your business
Is this preventing you from doing something else that might create more value?
4) Come up with ways that a competitor might make each irrelevant or ineffective 4) Come up with ways that a competitor might make each irrelevant or ineffective
How easy would it be for someone to also do this and take your advantage away?I
Is someone already doing something to try and take this advantage away from your organization? And if so, how?
5) List things you would do if (for whatever reason) suddenly you were no longer allowed or able to do the thing for which you are best
6) Considering all of the points identified in steps 2-5, how might this best-in-class item be made even better?
The idea with this exercise (as is typically the case with most creative thinking exercises) is to really push yourself, and identify as many things as you can where your organization is Best-In-Class. And for each thing you identify, list as many things as you can within each step.
The first things you come up with will be the easiest for you to complete. Eventually however, you will feel as if you are running out of ideas; but don’t stop here. I have found over the years the best ideas and opportunities are amongst the last ones that you will generate.
So what do you think? Is this a creative thinking exercise you can see adding to your creativity toolbox?
Leave a comment and let me know!
Now let’s get innovating!
"Is your organization Best-In-Class?" originally published on my LinkedIn page April 24, 2020