Monday, December 12, 2005

But this one goes up to eleven...

Kathy Sierra writes in Creating Passionate Users about using what she calls "EQ Modelling" to come up with Breakthrough Ideas. It's reminiscent of the book Blue Ocean Strategy, which talks about defining an entirely new space for your product to compete in. If you make yourself uniquely valuable to your customers, you make the competition irrelevant, or at least give yourself some breathing room.

Coming up with breakthrough ideas using EQ modeling

  • Least effective way: Figure out what the existing sliders are for this product or service, and change the value of one or more sliders. This is how most companies compete, and it's usually the most painful--the constant struggle to reduce price, add features, whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the competition.
  • More effective: Tune one or more of the typical sliders in an extremely dramatic way. For example, instead of cutting the price, make the product free. But this usually means you end up creating one or more new sliders for whatever business model allows you to make this drastic change.
  • Much more effective: Add new sliders for things that competitors have taken for granted, and haven't been competing on. In other words, dramatically change the weighting of things the competition had not considered changing. Example: our books.
  • Most effective (for breakthrough ideas, not always the best ideas ; ) Add wildly new sliders for things nobody in that industry had considered. Note that what's "wildly new" for one type of product or service might be standard/typical for another. A Customization slider, for example, would not be unusual for a wedding cake bakery, but was very unusual for athletic shoes.

This is great stuff. Sometimes it's easy to forget the joy to be had in the unexpected; the gift you never would have thought to ask for, or the ingredients you never would have thought to mix together (Whisky in tomato sauce? Carrots in salsa?). It's also easy to forget that sometimes you just need to trust your intuition and head out into the undiscovered country.

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