Thursday, November 22, 2007

Selling Innovation - Talk Straight

We here at Janders Dean International encourage using a simple approach to communicating business value to lawyers and management committees. The value of many KM, IT and/or Innovation style strategic concepts can be lost on a management audience during a pitch if the language used to describe the value, the solution, and/or the technology is not kept simple. The tangible values of many ideas and innovations which the support department functions (such as IT) often champion become lost in part due to the presenter's desire to over-sell, over-protect, or over-impress.

Dr Todd Stephens is the Technical Director of the Collaboration and Online Services for the AT&T Corporation. A recent article put forward his simple set of potential project entrance and exit strategies. Althought specifically written to address the world of blogs it made us here think about how this approach of identifying clear and simple pre-project entrance and exit strategies (not necessarily the exact examples below) could be used within the planning, scoping and objectives phases of many
knowledge management or collaboration based innovation projects.

It is the simplicity that we linked into - the fact that they are focused on the "collaboration" and "value" aspects, and the tangible "user experiences", rather than placing any emphasis on identifying technology as the core of innovation is refreshing.
Entrance strategies (i.e. simple ways to sell your concepts to your investment or steering committees) included the following:

* Enhance communication & credibility

* Increase adoption of products and services

* Leverage the wisdom of the crowds

* Develop communities of end users

Exit strategies (i.e. a way to politely admit defeat and save your bacon so that you don't have to continually champion a dead horse for fear of looking like you were the one who originally made a poor decision) included the following:

* No increase in adoption or utilisation of product lines

* Improvements and enhancements are limited

* Communications become distractions to the business model

* Not enough contributions to maintain interest

Although the above are related to a particular area of technology applications in the collaboration space, it has refreshed our thinking back many years to the Deloitte Seven Signals (an internal staff mantra) and particularly the signal which encourages all to "Talk Straight".

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