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VOL. 129 | NO. 170 | Monday, September 01, 2014

Graber

Michael Graber

The Gold Left on the Table

By Michael Graber

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I always feel bad for clients of a full-cycle innovation project. After the many ideation and co-creation sessions, there are far too many viable concepts to pursue. In many cases, millions of dollars of market expansion, new products with tested, validated appeal and new licensing opportunities get swept aside just because there are too many possibilities.

While we have formulas for figuring out the right mix for a product-line portfolio, far too many concepts never get their stage time on the market.

Sometimes the products would transform the business from selling in one channel to selling in a different one. Other times a service brand could enter the market selling a hard product. Yet other times it is a revolution to a business model with investment risks – for example, a product-based company had a viable and feasible way to pilot test a service-based store that sold products. This move could have been the beginning to a franchising event that would have the potential to more than triple the growth. In another case a strong licensing partner could have taken a whole suite of new, branded products to a new market.

In these cases, gold is left on the table. All of the examples above hail from the myriad of our client mix, but it could equally well represent any firm with a serious innovation discipline.

Here’s the question: who is responsible for the gold left on the table, the aftermarket of valuable ideas? Because if no one is, they will wither away in a Final Report and your organization will never harvest the total value of its innovation efforts.

Should innovation-centric firms create a new role? How about a “Gold Sweeper”? This person would work with all the various departments to see that the most viable ideas get the stage time and consideration not allotted at most organizations. Furthermore, they can formally document all of the gold left on the table.

The amount of value that never sees the light of day can be the catalytic driver of growth – if there is a process and person dedicated to seeing tested and viable concepts make it to the market.

Michael Graber is managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic growth firm based in Memphis. Visit southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.

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