Don’t be afraid of Trial-and-error: How to gain evolutionary advantage

trial and error

Why wait for the need to become obvious? Yes, why wait for it? If you are an established company, you have a set of challenges that you need to wrestle with on a daily basis. Growth, is one. Either by strengthening the existing value proposition of your current business, or by creating something entirely new.

With that said, to see what isn’t there, ask yourself a pair of questions:

  • What is the true value that customers get from my products or services?
  • In what other ways could that value be delivered?

If you can answer these questions clearly, then you can see a world of possibilities. Anticipating the needs of your customers isn’t a walk in the park. I have a client that is sitting on a gold mine of insights that could potentially take them into another business, or simply evolve their existing business. These types of opportunities are not obvious when you are engaged in the everyday routine of the job. Outsiders, in this case it was us, can help you ask the unquestionable and see anew.

Anyway, when you do identify other ways to deliver value, two things can happen:

  1. Your existing value proposition can be strengthened
  2. You create another product or service that takes advantage of this opportunity

Both steps need different planning.

If you are are working in a well established company, you are sitting on a mountain of unidentified insights. The pull of the daily routine is too strong for you to re-examine the company and see what’s in plain sight. It is best you don’t wait for Tinkerbell to come and drop Pixie dust on you to start flying and see the bigger picture.

These insights can only be uncovered by either perceiving them, or by probing for them. To probe, you have to spend time with your customers and pay attention to what they say and do.

You can’t assume that customers are completely satisfied, or that their existing needs will stay the same. You have to probe, and then probe some more to get a feel for what could happen. This means you have to experiment constantly with complete disregard for what customers like right now. Facebook and Google do a lot of this. Their appetite for experimentation is what keeps them pushing to either strengthen and extend their core, or to replace it.

With that said, take into account that by trying things, you might actually piss off your customers. But, understand, what your customers will like tomorrow might not be the same as what you give them today. They will either evolve with you or without you. We all know how the latter looks like.

Bottom line: There is no innovation without experimentation. Whether you like it or not, you have to play a game of trial-and-error to develop new value. There is no way around it. That includes experimenting with your value proposition itself. This is how you develop evolutionary advantage.


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