One of the key strategies for innovation and business development today is to look beyond your core business for adjacent markets, technologies or areas of focus where you can expand without severely taxing the resources of your organization. Tools like mind mapping and business diagramming can help you to visualize these adjacencies and to make informed decisions about which opportunities to pursue.
The diagram above depicts the Mind Mapping Software Blog as the center of my content universe. However, I realized several years ago that there’s much going on in the adjoining topics that may also be of value to you, flavors of visual thinking such as business diagramming, infographics and sketching. My core business continues to be focused on mind mapping software. But I have “zoomed out” to include some additional topics within the broader category of visual thinking, which adds a new dimension of value to my blog.
How to apply this idea to your business
Imagine how you could apply this principle of adjacencies to your own business. What is the core part of your business, the part upon which you currently depend for the bulk of your revenue? How could you expand your scope to include related products or markets that your customers also need? How could you provide them with a more comprehensive solution?
Whether you’re a blogger, consultant, accountant or manufacturer, the same principles apply: take off your blinders and look at the “bigger frame” that surrounds your business. What else should he be exploring? As you explore these potential opportunities, you may uncover connections and synergies that you didn’t even realize existed that could add significant value to your business.
The above diagram was created using SmartDraw, but you could just as easily replicate it using any mind mapping software. Simply place your core business as the central topic. If your business has multiple divisions or product lines, create first-level topics for each of them. Then add adjacent areas that may be relevant to each product line or division as child topics.
The reason I created a diagram rather than a mind map is because it enables me to do some clever things to add further meaning and relevance using formatting and color:
- A larger potential market can be depicted by a larger circle.
- Color can be used to designate markets that are most attractive to you. For example, I’ve used green to indicate those that I should begin exploring immediately, yellow for those that may have some future potential and red for those that aren’t a good strategic fit for my blog.
- You could use different topic shapes to designate different types of opportunities.
- You could depict the regions for your core business and adjacent business opportunities as nested rectangles rather than circles.
Use your imagination!
The key is to clearly visualize what your core business is and then thoughtfully – and visually – consider what business you’re REALLY in – the larger context within which you could potentially do business. This could be framed by a broader understanding of your customers’ total needs or perhaps in anticipation of what people may want, even if they don’t know what that is (Apple’s business philosophy).
Good luck exploring YOUR adjacencies!