This Might Kill Us …

Serendipity was on my side as my first week with Chaordix aligned perfectly with my team’s participation and attendance in the Open Innovation Conference that took place in Philadelphia last week.  Though I walked away with quite a bit of new macro knowledge, a stack of business cards, and a new found love for Cuban food (thank you Alma de Cuba), I also left Philly with a few key initiatives and ideas any business of any size could and should be trying out.

As one of the speakers powered on from the pulpit, an interesting idea was brought up.  Instead of constantly ideating, pondering, and wishing for that next billion-dollar idea, do something dramatically different.  Ask, “What Might Kill Our Business?” … What might literally destroy our existence as we know it in the business world?  Whatever you do, create or provide, what anti-body could emerge that would literally leave you in tatters?

My mind immediately honed in on Blockbuster … oh how the mighty have fallen in this instance.  The Titanic of the American video industry is all but an afterthought because someone, somewhere had the gall to ask, “I have to leave my house because???” and in Netflix emerged.  Now this is an obvious one, a rear-view mirror example of how a little exercise might have saved the royal blue and yellow Goliath from what was an impending stone to the noggin.  Your company’s ‘killer’ might not be so obvious, so how can you set up a systematic way to bring out these ‘killer ideas’?

It’s a two-fold approach.

First, a Blockbuster employee might have seen Netflix coming, I don’t know.  They might have stood up on their middle management soapbox and screamed; “This WILL Kill Us!!!!!” … Only to be ignored or told to get back to what was really important, finding new ways to extract late fees from loyal customers.

If you are not conversing with your employees in meaningful ways, please begin.  You need more than a collaboration tool.  You need an approach, a methodology, guidance and a custom way to ensure continual activity from your most precious resource, your people.

Second, if you are only asking this question to your internal employees or close knit leadership group, please reconsider the approach. At least 5 days a week, for well over 40 hours a week, you are surrounded by these very people.  As Michael Maddock of Maddock Douglas so concisely put it; “You can’t read the label if you’re inside the jar.”  Do yourself the favor of tapping resource or a crowd that is outside your four walls.  Most companies are very good at evolutionary or incremental innovation.  It’s safe, it’s how they’re managed to innovate, and they’re good at it, so they keep doing it over and over again.

Conversely, most internal teams are not great at revolutionary innovation. Often, it’s because they are not tapping the right resources that can facilitate this explosive chasm or shift.  Having a system and the proper support in place that extracts greatness from an external source consistently might be a very smart move.

It’s just one exercise.  Shake things up internally and begin to think about innovation and crowdsourcing from an external viewpoint.  If you create, define, or discover the ‘Killer’ that can bring your business down for the count, that same ‘Killer’ might just become your next Billion Dollar Baby.

Photo by: DuneChaser (Seriously…check them out!)

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