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From Wow to How: The Servitization Journey

COVID-19 forever changed how businesses operate. Entire industries had to revolutionize the status quo and in doing so began the transition to “the new normal.”  Truth be told, that process was well underway prior to the pandemic. But the sudden halt gave us time to step back and reexamine how we do things. This introspection resulted in many companies realizing that they needed a new approach. Whether that be a different way to interact with consumers, a more streamlined decision-making pipeline, or a change to the company mantra, innovation was and is paramount. Ideas are easy, making them happen is hard.

Your starting point informs the decision-making process more consequentially than any other step

At The Service Design Group, bringing an idea from concept to reality is our pride and passion. We have been helping businesses transform themselves since 2011. While every company’s path is different, our approach can be abstracted into a few simple steps.

1. Tell Your Story

Step number one is laying out your narrative. Every journey begins with a story, and every story starts with a well-organized strategy. Honest self-assessment is an integral first step. What are your company’s capabilities? Where does your infrastructure allow you to operate? What differentiates you from your competition? Your starting point informs the decision-making process more consequentially than any other step.

How you organize your starting point is important. For example, when organizing a story for an innovation idea, information gets aggregated into what we call The Big Picture. The Big Picture is a dynamic storyboard that allows you to clearly define your idea and track progress towards its realization. It allows teams across various departments to efficiently collaborate and orient towards concrete goals.

Innovation can be risky if it is not carefully thought out. Making sure that everyone is onboard with the new direction ensures a smoother journey

2. Define Success

Step number two is defining success according to stakeholders. Who are the stakeholders, generally? They are the answer to “who are we considering this innovation for?” Whether that be your customers or company leadership, their voices matter, so you need to make sure your objectives align with theirs from the outset. Innovation can be risky if it is not carefully thought out. Making sure that everyone is onboard with the new direction ensures a smoother journey.

One way this can happen is by outlining a stakeholder map. A stakeholder map has three concentric circles. The centermost circle is for those who are “all in.” These are the entities most affected by the innovation transformation, and should be often consulted in decision-making processes. The most important external stakeholder is the primary user, but it’s important to not forget about internal stakeholders. Examples of this group are those in charge of marketing the new offering, or the team engineering the customer support infrastructure to support it. The next circle is those with a vested interest. This group is a step away from the transformation, but is still important to the process. These might include warehouse faculty or regulatory staff. The final circle consists of fringe characters. These figures should be clued into the journey, but not an essential part of its narrative. Examples of these could be C-Suite executives or the IT department.

Regardless of the undertaking, understanding where each piece of your company fits into the puzzle is a necessary component of innovating effectively.

3. Own Your Scope

Ideas may be boundless, but innovations should not be. Innovations need boundaries and plans to become more than just a talking point

Step number three is defining and owning your scope. Ideas may be boundless, but innovations should not be. Innovations need boundaries and plans to become more than just a talking point. The best way to navigate this step is by asking a series of questions. Start with your assumptions – what do you need to be true to move forward? Next, identify constraints, the things that limit what you must operate within, like time and budget.>

The point of understanding your scope is so you are able to define your objectives and deliverable from minimum viable product (MVP) through full scale offering. Assess the risks to you, the company and your customers of doing and not doing the innovation. Keep in mind that opportunity cost is an important persuader.

4. Sketch Your Plan

Step number four is sketching your project plan. Start with identifying main activities, then breaking them down into relevant piece parts. For example, a car ride to the airport could be deconstructed into its time frame, 1 hour and 20 minutes, and its components, a car and a family.

With this information, sequence activities based on dependencies. What needs to be done in order to move on to the next step? How can timelines be oriented to achieve maximum efficiency? Make sure that the deadlines are feasible to hold yourself accountable.

5. Prototype The Change

Prototyping is the best path to creating an MVP.

Step number five is prototyping the change. Prototyping is the best path to creating an MVP. It is an incremental process that constantly absorbs feedback in order to perfect the new offering. It is difficult to prototype services, which is why we suggest role playing. Practicing with your team members on both sides of the service interaction places focus on the authenticity of the outcome, and is a great place to test the assumptions from step number three.

After you have made refinements and adjustments based on feedback, you are ready to move onto the next step.

6. Combine It All Together

Step number six brings it all together. This is where you tell your story from wow to how. At this point, you and your team have thought through all the logistical hurdles and are ready to pitch the idea. Successful pitches anticipate any questions that leadership might pose. The Big Picture comes back into frame here. It encompasses all the logic, decision making, and creativity invested in the idea since the outset.

Using these six steps will help you avoid getting stuck as you innovate. Cannot wait to see what you develop next!

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