Friday, May 25, 2007

Missing an opportunity via traditional business planning

Posting about a better way to manage innovation last week reminded me of a story from my days at EDS. In 1996 a colleague and I worked on business plan for a South American wireless clearinghouse. We could see it was good business, but no matter what we did, we just couldn't get those numbers to work out, to get an appropriate level of profit with low enough risk. So the company dropped it. But now of course such a clearinghouse does exist, and I'm guessing it makes money for whoever runs it. Which makes me wonder how things would have been different if we'd used the approaches described in the article.

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John Caddell said...

The following comment came from NW Guy:

It wouldn't surprise me if we talked about that business plan at some point, didn't you have another plan based on SMS traffic or another wireless approach??

In terms of the innovation planning process, it does tend to be highest reward/lowest risk in corporations. What would happen if the discussion included the alternate success possibilities? Force everyone to think through a few tangent alternatives like those listed in the post, or other potential market successes. Not all success comes in a straight line.

If my name looks familiar (did a lot of work with Harrisburg and in the Telecom industry...think KC connection) drop me a line.