When setting the future direction of an organization we commonly look at market potential and the strategic fit with your organization. By analyzing the financial potential we make our revenue forecast. And by analyzing the organizational strength we determine our investments. Adding the two together makes your business case.
When presented with multiple opportunities you will need to decide which to pursue and these two variables are critically important. I call them Cash and Fit. In addition to these there are two others that are often not articulated, but equally important: Pull and Passion.
Pull is all about understanding the real needs and wants of your future end-user. You are going to offer them a solution of some sort that they don’t yet have today. It can be a product, a service or a brand that you assume they really want. It is obviously criticial to make sure that there is a real need for this: the higher the pull, the higher the commercial traction.
Passion is about the fit with the higher purpose of your organization. People work harder for things they believe in – it is passion that drives people. If an opportunity fuels your passion then your odds of success sharply increase.
By splitting your criteria into Fit, Cash, Pull and Passion you avoid misunderstanding. I might be very passionate about how this serves our higher purpose but you might be concerned about the misfit with the current capabilities of the organization. By addressing them separately we can keep the discussion transparent and clear.
Let me illustrate this with an example.
When we worked on a new method to learn English on elementary schools we came up with a few different directions and opportunities.
One was about using ‘gaming’ as the key carrier of the concept and another was using ‘music ‘to help kids learn English.
Both are motivational for kids in class to learn English, but have different consequences.
PULL – Both scored equally high on Pull for kids, but teachers did not care much for gaming. Making the total Pull for music higher than the Pull for gaming.
PASSION – Both scored high but overall gaming scored just slightly higher with the developers of the curriculum.
FIT – The tough thing with gaming was that kids only wanted them in class if they were on par with the games they played at home. This educational publisher is no Nintendo. So to deliver this they would need to make huge investments. Music was much simpler to work with.
CASH – Both business models where more or less on par.
On the basis of this we chose for music because over the four it scored highest. It did have consequences as one of the developers who’s passion was gaming decided to look out for work elsewhere. But that is fine and the decision was made in openness and honesty. Once deciding on the path the organization had a clear way forward, an aligned, passionate team and all festering was pre-empted.
The project materialized into the most successful, fastest developed new learning method ever introduced by a new publisher in the Netherlands – Groove.me. I like to believe, and actually do, that this approach in the strategic process was a critical part of that success.
It’s a real simple tool. And it really helps to define a direction that makes money, you can deliver on, your people are passionate about and – not to forget – your future end user really wants and needs.