The first day of the New Year is haloed in possibilities of who we are and all we wish to be; opportunities for 2013 abound as we start back to work on January 2nd. And, as the calendar changes, so do we. It may be time to shake off old ways and try some new practices to shift your perspective and fulfill new possibilities.
Here are four suggestions that can jump start you and your business.
1. Get the picture
Over the first couple of weeks start shooting photos of interesting people and things to build an inspiration wall. Take photos that are wide-ranging and earthy. In photos we see new possibilities, new colors, new behaviors and new beginnings. By playing in photography you will have a role in something much larger than ourselves, to be part of the script, to be part of the action.
When people ask me what is the point of this exercise I offer a response that is rooted in the value of play. When doing things that are intrinsically rewarding for there own sake, acting and thinking becomes one and it feels cleansing. There is no better way to clear out the cobwebs and have a fresh adventure, physical or mental. Revisiting the photo board will bring you back to those moments when you need to feel stimulated by the heartbeat of the present.
2. Stay Charged
To maintain a curious and agile mind you have to cut the ties that bind you to your desk chair. We spend most of our business life in our office at arm’s length from the noisy chaos of the customer. It is no wonder that acting outside of the data world terrifies most marketers and business leaders. Business judgment requires understanding the customer beyond the numbers and you are not going to acquire it sitting in your office.
To keep your momentum going, go on a half or full day immersion with your team. Jolt your expectations by discovering adjacencies to your business that may be a wellspring of new thoughts and dreams to generate growth. Brush up against your consumer to find real insights about what motivates them. Talk to people who love your competitor and listen deeply. That will fire you up to compete!
It is a popular question to ask people if they actually use the products they are marketing and selling. Of course all those asked vigorously nod in agreement that they do. The better question is, “Do you use the competitor’s products on a regular basis?” Imagine what can be learned from that experience! Take the opportunity in this new year to dive into the competitive offerings in your category and become an expert on what they are selling and personally experience the relationship they offer.
To inject a competitive spirit into your team conduct an offsite Market Gaming Meeting. Part of the pre-work is for everyone to buy and use the competitive products or services for a few weeks in advance. The meeting begins with a visualization exercise that brings to life the users experience based on your first hand perspective. The priority for the day is to evaluate your products strengths and weaknesses in comparison and identify ways to change the game to your advantage –either through strategy or tactics. Many businesses are faced with growing by taking market share. This approach will make the game you are playing in the marketplace concrete, like a reality game board to identify moves you should take to grow share.
4. Plow the Pipeline
Is your pipeline fertile? Take a good hard look at it and determine whether the pipeline represents a vision of where you are taking the business. If it is just a collection of projects that continue to stuff pipeline charts, then start to prioritize what stays and what goes. Killing projects early is part of the innovation process. Killing projects at a later stage consumes precious resources and is expensive and disruptive to the organization.
It can be invigorating to terminate or suspend projects that people no longer know why the business is pursuing them. It is far better to initiate more creativity and momentum while you have the time to fill the gaps than to sponsor false hope that weak ideas will somehow get better through the product development and launch cycles. Revisit your pipeline early in the year and challenge whether the ideas the operation is spending time and money on are worthy of the investment. Start with a sanity check of how much revenue each idea will really generate. Include sales people in the discussion to infuse objectivity into the evaluation.
I wish you good luck and good business in 2013 !
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Donna Sturgess is the President and Co-founder of Buyology Inc and former Global Head of Innovation for GlaxoSmithKline. Her latest book is Eyeballs Out: How To Step Into Another World, Discover New Ideas, and Make Your Business Thrive. Follow on Twitter: @donnasturgess