Connecting The Dots: engage in the BizDev creative process (Pt. 2)
Updated: Jan 21, 2020
It’s all about the information
We’ve already established that a creative process requires the ability to register and store information. In order to do so, you have to become an infinite learner; You need to be the most prominent expert about your company, your products, and the industry.
Your knowledge should contain four layers; Let’s use avocado as an analogy,
for no good reason other than that it’s an awesome fruit (did you know that botanically it’s a berry? Mind = Blown).
The Pit – The pit is your company and product or service, and you need to know everything about it. Starting from the history of the business and all of its pivots, through the technical details, to how clients interact with what you produce and how they feel about it. Talk to everyone within your company; the founders, the executives, the engineers, the marketing team, the sales team, and the clients.
We will explore the right way to talk to clients in a future post.
Only if you learn everything there is to know about your business you can understand what other applications and opportunities might be out there. You can’t grow an avocado tree without understanding your seed.
The Flesh – This is the specific domain you are operating in. Let’s take Legally as an example; Our product is an AI-based online platform for contract reviewing, so our domain is the intersection between AI and legal services, specifically contracts. If we’re Google (to simplify let’s assume it’s before Alphabet and that they have only one product), our domain is online search engines.
Thus, I need to know everything there is about my domain including what other solutions are out there, direct and indirect competition, statistics, what are the problems in my domain, how do people look for solutions, who are the opinion leaders for my domain, etc.
This is the information you should come across most often, so like with real avocado flesh; this should be the easiest part to consume (I know, I’m working hard to make this analogy work).
The Skin – At first glance, it seems that avocado’s skin has no benefit for us humans, but when you learn about it you find out that it can make you pretty.
The third layer is knowledge about the market your business operates in. If Legally’s domain is AI and contracts, our market is legal services in general. Sometimes the market is a little more elusive; Although Google’s domain is search, it’s market is online marketing.
Understanding your market will allow you to understand the court you’re playing in and will help you make decisions. For example – when you’ll consider launching a new service; will you grow vertically and offer additional services that answer your current costumer's additional needs, or will you grow horizontally and provide services in adjacent domains to the one you are operating in. Only by understanding both your domain and your market you can start exploring the possibilities.
You can know everything there is about your avocado, but without learning about tomatoes we wouldn’t have the wonderful invention of guacamole.
1914 words ago, we've established that the way to facilitate serendipitous connections is a matter of simultaneously introducing ideas from different disciplines into consciousness. That’s why knowing as much as possible about other markets, domains, and even other human and cultural activities is the X-factor for innovation.
Remember the short-lived breakthrough technology called MiniDisc? That’s ok, nobody does.
At the time, Sony thought they are bringing the next innovation in portable music players. And they had good reason to think so; They understood the trend – Vinyl records, cassettes, CD’s – Make it smaller in size and bigger in storage and you have a hit!
Who would have thought that the revolution will come from an utterly different domain; Data compression and the invention of MP3, that will make physical storage of music obsolete? I’ll tell you who – Diamond Multimedia did.
So, Have you found all the relevant sources that will make you the Yoda of your company, domain, market, and anything adjacent to it? You’re on the right path, just remember that it’s not a one-time-learn-and-forget kind of thing. This is a constant process, which you need to maintain all the time, for a few hours each day. If you don't keep up with the latest trends and innovation, you’ll become irrelevant. And in the business development world, that equals (metaphorical) death.
Personally, I found that joining an RSS type platform helps me to stay on top of all the different media outlets. I use Feedly, but experiment by yourself and understand what works for you.
Allow Ideas to form, and then make sure they are shared
We will discuss team creating on a future post, but If you are about to be in charge of a BizDev team read this: What makes a successful team according to Google
In regards to the creative process in a team, you have to create an environment where there is no such thing as a bad or ridicules idea. Every thought, no matter how far-fetched, has to be articulated and heard; even if this specific thought doesn't lead to anything, it will feed everyone’s imagination, which will lead to more Ideas. And be mindful, because the first time one of your team members will hear some kind of “It’s a bad idea” sentence – will also be the last time they will feel comfortable. So encourage original thought and the exchange of thoughts, no matter how crazy they are.
One cool way to make it a daily practice is to set up a big board on which each member of your team will post an Idea they had in the previous evening, and on which other teammates can comment (positively!) and create follow-ups.
What kind of dreamer are you?
A lot of the most innovative ideas spark while daydreaming or utterly sleeping. That’s when hunches and fragmented thoughts mature into ideas. Thus, the final piece in our creative puzzle is those idle moments in which your thought wonders to that fabulous place where dots are connected. You can’t be creative when your mind is overflowed or too occupied, so you have to create a time that will allow you to contemplate.
Each of us has our situations in which our minds do their own thing; for me, it’s while running, for others, it’s a different activity or simply the absence of any activity. So whether it’s while driving, walking or doing the dishes – find the time in which your daydreaming is at its best, and then integrate it into your schedule.
There is a lot more to unpack about the dot-connecting stage of the business development process, and about creative processes, but this concludes my two cents on this subject.
All of the elements which I discussed should allow you to have an effective creative process, which will bring ideas for ways to develop your business. This ideas will be based on assumptions you will have, and in order to start executing these ideas, you need to validate your assumptions first – because executing on a baseless assumption is like cutting through a thick jungle without realizing that not only you are in the wrong direction, but that you are in an entirely different jungle than the one you thought.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject!
Comment here, or on the shared post on your favorite social media platform, or drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.