The good news is that it is indeed possible, but be warned, these projects are so fast paced they make the television series ‘24’ look like it's in slow motion!
To shine a light on what can be accomplished within a 12-week time frame, I’ve selected an example from a recent revenue growth project for a B2B technology company. The aim was to identify new revenue growth opportunities that could generate an additional £2 million revenue within a 3-year timeframe.
Here are some key insights into the approach, which is summarised below in three stages:
It was crucial that Stage 1 delivered an excellent set of revenue growth ideas. To do that, we carefully designed each brainstorm to target a particular growth area, and ran brainstorms in two countries to incorporate regional differences.
Each brainstorm was approx. 2.5 hours, which worked well in terms of providing enough time to generate ideas without demanding too much time from staff. After the brainstorms had been completed, the ideas were clustered to form stronger ideas, giving them a greater probability of eventual success. The clustering exercise took approx. 3 hours, followed by two rapid iterations with the core team.
Towards the end of Stage 1, a prioritisation meeting was held with senior management to screen and assess the shortlisted ideas, and agree which ones to progress.
Other factors that contributed to the success of Stage 1 included: having a dedicated team involved on a part-time basis, timely decision making, and using the right prioritisation criteria.
We needed to test the ideas and gain market feedback. However, we didn't have the time or resource to undertake a major piece of market research. How did we go about it? The Sales team provided a good list of customer contacts, and we also tapped into the company’s internal network to identify customer and industry contacts. It was an efficient way to get quick access to the right people.
The final three weeks involved consolidating the market research findings and writing up each idea in the form of a business opportunity, including next steps towards implementation. This is rarely as straightforward as it sounds as there are always gaps in your research that need to be filled, and building a business opportunity involves multiple iterations.
During this stage, I find it helps to use a workshop technique called Challenge & Rebuild. It involves breaking down each element of an idea/opportunity through an extensive critique of why it will not work followed by rebuilding each part to overcome the challenges. You end up with even better business opportunities.
In summary, with structured innovation techniques, you can accomplish a lot within a few weeks. However, it's important to strike the right balance between ‘structure’ and ‘improvisation’, as this provides the flexibility to make changes on the fly.
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