Top Soars Technique in Nigerian Business

Top Soars Technique in Nigerian Business

Top Soars Technique in Nigerian Business | If creativity is essential for success these days, then we must become profligate with ideas. On his blog, entrepreneur James Altucher shares these ideas for becoming an idea machine:

Last week I talked about the first phase of the creative process (divergence), which consists of stimulating new thinking by diversifying and exploring. The second phase in the process is convergence, which involves refining and choosing the best possibilities from the ideas generated during the divergence phase.

In today’s global economy, market opportunities abound. For most companies, the problem is not coming up with enough good ideas. It’s deciding which ones to follow through on. Convergence tools help to make sense of what often seems like an overwhelming number of possibilities. They enable you to narrow the range of choices in order to make an intelligent decision. And they provide a starting point from which to implement those decisions.

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To get the most out of the convergence phase, I recommend using the SOARS technique:

Sort

To make sense of all the different possibilities in front of you, start by grouping them into meaningful categories. These categories might be related to time, feasibility, market demand, availability of resources, type of possibility, or any other category that would help to bring order out of the chaos.

I like to use a three-color sorting technique to simplify the sorting process. Green represents ideas that clearly fit with your criteria. Yellow is for ideas that have some fit but probably need further thought. Red identifies ideas that do not fit the criteria.

Order

Once you’ve sorted ideas by category, rank them against pre-established criteria to create an order of preference. A basic quadrant chart that incorporates two important criteria offers a simple yet powerful way to see which ideas best fit the criteria. For example, if you choose “cost” and “feasibility” as your criteria, you end up with four distinct quadrants in which to place your ideas:

  • High cost, low feasibility
  • High cost, high feasibility
  • Low cost, low feasibility
  • Low cost, high feasibility

You can also use other criteria — such as time to market, probability of success, relevance to customer wants and needs, anticipated return on investment, etc. — to help you narrow down the list.

Adapt

When likely possibilities have been identified, they can be expanded and adapted to create even better ideas. “Take Away” offers a simple tool for engaging in this process. Identify all the critical components of an idea, then take one away and see what you would have to do if that component wasn’t available or didn’t exist. For example, if you didn’t have access to electricity, you might start thinking about phones that didn’t have to be plugged in.

Refine

Now it’s time to start critiquing the idea by identifying weak spots and potential failure points. The goal here is to “bullet-proof” an idea before deciding to move forward with it. Start by thinking of all the ways the idea could fail, what external events might create a disaster, or who could and/or would say “no” to the idea. Then begin to brainstorm ways to avoid these possible obstacles. If the obstacles that remain are too complex, costly or difficult to overcome, the idea doesn’t pass muster.

Select

“Dot Voting” offers a simple technique for selecting ideas. Make all of the choices available, and give each participant a certain number of dots to vote with. If you’ve established the criteria in advance, this process can be very effective for selecting the best ideas and getting buy-in from people as they see that certain concepts match the criteria more than others.

Keep in mind that ideas are only ideas until they get implemented, and implementation requires that someone take ownership. Getting the right people to take ownership of an idea is a critical piece of the process.

Also, it helps to have a process and/or methodology for turning your newly selected ideas into practical products or services. Start by identifying what innovation means to your organization. Why is it important and what will happen when you achieve it?

Choose an innovation model or approach that fits your type of business and your available resources to drive your innovation efforts. Then identify metrics for inputs, development, and output. If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

Mobilize the organization by clarifying and communicating your vision of what successful innovation looks like in your business. Provide the tools and support people need. Hold them accountable for new ways of thinking and working. And keep people inspired by sharing stories of success and failure.

Hopefully, people in your organization are coming up with lots of new ideas. When they do, the SOARS technique will make it much more likely that you act on the best ones.

Stay lean by economizing at every level of your business operations. Understand that many of your competitors may be able to outspend you, but if you maintain a level of fiscal responsibility (especially during start-up phases), you will be better able to compete. Keep your overhead low and find ways to create economies that your competition traditionally overlooks. Partner with local nonprofit organizations or donate a small percentage of sales to a local church for every member who patronizes your business, for example. Finding inventive ways to save money can be much easier with a small business.

2. Stay flexible in your planning and operations by maintaining one or two back-up plans. Know that the larger your company, the more difficult this may be. Shift quickly away from a plan that is proving to be unprofitable and move resources to back-up strategies that may offer less risk or more potential payouts.

3. Take advantage of technology to disguise your size. Understand that the Internet, management and operations software, and other business technology have made it possible for very small firms to present the same business image as larger firms. Invest in technology that will drive customers to your products and services while giving them confidence in your ability to service their needs.

4. Develop your target market before expanding. Focus your efforts on servicing a specific customer base; secure their loyalty and patronage before moving on to enter a new market. Remember that, typically, more money is spent on getting new customers than keeping the ones you already have who bring you the most revenue. Ensure that your small business balances its quest for market growth with a maintenance of a solid customer base.

5. Improve on industry standards. Don’t be afraid to change the traditional business model. Give your product away for free and sell advertising space on the product itself; it may be a crazy idea, but if it’s profitable (and legal), who cares!

Capture fresh thoughts

Ideas floating about in your brain, uncaptured, will never get you anywhere. So take time every day to write down 10 new ideas. They can be on anything. “It doesn’t matter if they are business ideas, book ideas, ideas for surprising your spouse in bed, ideas for what you should do if you are arrested for shoplifting, ideas for how to make a better tennis racquet, anything you want. The key is that it has to be 10 or more,” Mr. Altucher declares. “You want your brain to sweat.”

Don’t limit yourself to ideas you can put into practice today – or ever. It can be helpful to list 10 ideas too big for you to carry out, some perhaps not even possible at all, just for the value of outlining the notion. He stresses that you never have to look at these ideas again. The purpose is not to come up with a good idea but just to have thousands of ideas over time.

Activate new parts of your brain

Mr. Altucher recounts taking a watercolour class with his wife. He wasn’t all that great at it, but his brain felt terrific, because he was diversifying, trying something new.

Dip into four books a day

Every day, read some chapters from or skim books on four different topics, including some issues you know nothing about (he cites a genetic engineering book he explored recently).

Ease up on yourself

Make sure that as you play with ideas, you limit the pressure on yourself. You should not have to feel that every seed you bury will grow into a lush plant. That will just set you up for disappointment and burnout.

Shake up your day

He has a precise routine every day, starting with reading and writing, and continuing through meetings and meals. But sometimes when he needs to rejuvenate, he’ll spice it up with something different – perhaps a walk first thing in the morning instead of reading, or sleeping in four-hour shifts instead of eight hours. Shaking up the conscious mind allows the unconscious to be freed, and good ideas can emerge.

Recall childhood passions

Years ago, you had some interests as a child that consumed you but are now gone from your life. Try to recall them, write them on a list, and think about what you knew – still know – about them. The more, different notions at play in your mind increases the chances of two different thoughts cross-fertilizing into a new passion or idea.

Tickle your brain

Mr. Altucher recalls how he was advised to turn off his computer to be creative. That might be true. But so might the reverse. “With the entire world of knowledge at our fingertips it sometimes is fun to get sucked down the rabbit hole like Alice and drift around in Wonderland,” he writes. “It tickles the brain and lights things up that may have been dormant.”


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