Growth opportunity? … Or a time and talent trap?

Most people miss opportunity when they see it, because it comes wearing coveralls and looks like work.
Thomas Edison

Before you sink scarce time and talent into exploiting a growth opportunity …

Put on your coveralls and do the front-end work of eliciting from prospective customers and end users the job they want to be done.Explore and evaluate why they will employ your product idea to solve a problem they have.

Elicitation is a conversation where you have an agenda. Have these conversations with a group of forty lead users, early adopters, and end users.

Elicitation unearths deep understanding on, for example …

  • The most desirable set of customers.
  • The key lead users and core early adopters in this set.
  • The job do they want your product idea to do.
  • Why they will employ your idea to solve their problem

Drawing out data and knowledge by elicitation reduces the doubt associated with early marketing assumptions about emerging growth opportunities.3

Prospective customers and their end users working on a growth opportunity are creating unique data and information. They will volunteer this actionable knowledge during a conversation when they assume the role of the Professor as long as the elicitor remains in the role of the Intelligent Pupil. By using data and information to understand the job-to-be-done, you avoid wasting time and talent on an opportunity that is a time and talent trap.

Advantages of telephone elicitation over face-to-face conversations when evaluating growth opportunities

  1. Quick and cost-effective
  2. Prospective customers are …
    1. Easy to reach
    2. Are more open
    3. Surface more data and information on why they will employ your idea

1. Clayton Christensen The Innovator’s Solution Harvard Business School Press (2003)

2. Rita McGrath and Ian MacMillian Discovery-Driven Growth: A Breakthrough Process to Reduce Risk and Seize Opportunity Harvard Business School Press (2009)

3. D. L. Hoffman, P.K. Kipalle, T. P. Novak The “Right” Consumers for Better Concepts: Identifying and Using Consumers High in Emergent Nature to Further Develop New Product Concepts Journal of Marketing Research 47 (October 2010)