Several months ago, I shared with you 10 ways in which you can utilize mind mapping software to rethink your business, leap ahead of your competitors and delight your customers.
Here are 7 more strategies for your consideration:
1. Map out your employees, their positions and their responsibilities – sort of like an organization chart on steroids. Visualizing this information will make it easier for you to see who is overloaded, who may not have enough work and where you may be able to streamline departments and job functions.
2. Prune your innovation portfolio: Map out the projects in your company’s new product development (NPD) portfolio and use your mind mapping software to classify them as short/medium/long term and low/medium/high risk. Use your mind map to subject your innovation portfolio to a different set of rigorous tests that can bundle, re-combine, re-prioritize the concepts in the works. Then zero in on those projects that are relatively low risk and can be accomplished in a fairly short time horizon. These will enable you to focus your resources on fewer, more promising projects, and to get a quicker payoff on the core projects that survive this process.
3. Map out the existing services that “surround” your company’s products. Brainstorm new services that you can use to complement existing products and provide more valuable customer experiences – which will help you to increase customer loyalty. Seek to align your products and services with the needs of key customers, which have changed as a result of the downturn. Your customers, like you, are trying to cut costs, increase revenue and streamline their operations. Try brainstorming with these recession-beating questions developed by innovation expert Paul Sloane:
- In what other ways could we provide this value to our clients?
- In what new ways can we help customers with the problems that they are having?
- What major element of cost can we completely eliminate?
- How can we use the internet in a new and better way to reach and help clients?
- How can we gain competitive advantage by trying something radically different?
In short, now is the time to subject your business s to some “creative reconstruction”, aimed at making them better suited to today’s shifting customer needs and the new economic realities. Now is the ideal time to harness emergent trends and discontinuities, overturn deeply held orthodoxies – and substantially change the way “things are done” in your industry. And mind mapping software is an ideal way to visualize these latent opportunities!
4. Take a fresh look at your key customers from the standpoint of their “jobs to be done” – a core concept from Clayton Christensen’s landmark book, The Innovator’s Solution. In other words, what are they trying to accomplish? What is the end result they seek? And how can you enable it? Map out these jobs, and list the needs and implications that each implies in separate branches of your map. Remember: Even during a recession, real customers continue to face real problems. Innovators who figure out different ways to solve those problems – and make money doing so – will have opportunities to create new growth businesses. History consistently demonstrates that the creative destruction unleashed by a crisis always opens up opportunities for innovation. “The absolute worst thing your company can do in a stalled economy is to assume you can just continue to sell the same old product or service to the same old customers in the same old way – and at the same old price,” explains innovation expoert Rowan Gibson. “Instead, you need to get busy working out how your customers’ priorities may have changed, and quickly realign your business to address their new needs.”
5. Use your mind mapping software to do scenario planning. Create several future scenarios, each on a separate main branch of your map – one assuming the status quo, another that assumes there are incremental changes in your customers and marketplace (increased government regulation, for example) and a third that assumes that your market or industry is affected by a radical innovation (a new technology that matures and reaches critical mass quickly, for example). Forecast two to three years out and evaluate the likely changes and outcomes from the financial crisis. This will help you to identify new ideas and opportunities. “Big change is scary – but big change is good,” says innovation expert Boris Pluskowski. “Big change means big opportunities: Opportunities to change the game, to take advantage of weaker competitors, to find new and novel ways in which to not only survive, but to thrive,” he adds.
6. Identify areas of waste and inefficiency: Map out your business processes, teams and operations using your mind mapping software. Look for steps that don’t add any value, or that offer insufficient value. Look for new ways to extract more horsepower from your intelligence, people, knowledge and clients and put that to new innovative use. Don’t just focus on cost cutting, but on opportunities to reconfigure and reconstruct your business in new, creative ways. Look for value in new places. Another key thought to keep in mind: speed to market is a key competitive advantage. If you can eliminate waste and streamline your business processes, you may be able to significantly improve the agility of your company – a key asset when the economic upturn arrives!
7. Do business continuity planning: What if a catastrophe was to strike your business? What would happen? How soon would you be able to get up and running again? A mind map is the perfect tool to visually think about the natural disasters you ought to prepare for (flooding, fire, tornado, earthquake, etc.) and flesh out plans to get back up and running with the minimum of disruption of services to your customers and clients. Now, when business is slow, is a perfect time to do this!
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