Let’s kick in an open door. Ideas run through different stages until you realise them. You’ll probably recognise it from your own professional experience…

First, there’s the exploring stage. You or your colleagues are coming up with loads of new ideas. And because there are still a lot of uncertainties, it’s best to prototype these ideas. While you’re testing, you’ll be answering questions like:

  • Is there a market fit,
  • Will the idea be profitable,
  • Do we have the right skills in-house,
  • etc.

At the start, these prototypes are still small, but they do create a lot of evidence for later. You’re making sure your idea is worth it.

Now the problem is, when a promising idea exits the exploring phase, you might know how the wheels turn. But how are you going to make sure your colleagues know too? That’s a challenge you’ll tackle during the exploit stage.

This is where you turn ideas into clear pipelines. How will you roll out your idea in order for everything to run as smoothly as possible? Surely you’ll notice how the uncertainty you had at the start, is slowly disappearing.

explore-exploitLoads of companies deal with it: a load of great ideas, but they don’t convert into reality. How on earth do you make sure the right ideas don’t end up in the drawer?

The explore-exploit framework (source) creates a good base to get rid of uncertainties. With this mindset, more ideas find their way into reality. But knowing how to create the right professional environment to make good ideas succeed? That’s where the magic happens…

The people & mindset of your organization play a role you simply cannot underestimate…

 

The right people

 

A football team can’t win if there are 11 strikers on the pitch. The same goes for your organization. There are two essential profiles: superstars & rockstars. (source) Let’s meet them.

Superstars

Ideas and opportunities don’t appear out of thin air. That’s why you’ll need employees who are constantly looking for the next big thing. They’re the ‘Superstars’ of your organization.

Superstars scan for where the next opportunity lies, and more importantly: where not. They love a  bit of chaos and uncertainty. You can sense it: these profiles generate the largest stream of ideas and are at their best during the explore stage.

Rockstars

It’s the superstars who map out where you want to go during the explore-stage. That’s cool: but how do you actually get there? The person who comes up with an idea is often not the one most fit to roll it out. That’s why your organisation also needs another type of talent: the ‘Rockstars’.

It’s a Rockstars goal to create clarity out of the uncertainties from the explore stage. Rockstars optimise and give practical interpretations to vague ideas. They don’t like the uncertainties in which Superstars excel. That’s why your company empowers them by using them during the exploit phase.

 

Does your company have the right balance between Rock- and Superstars?

When your company consists of only Superstars, you’ll have an overflow of new ideas. The problem is that no one has the skills to turn them into reality efficiently. Are there more Rockstars on the work floor? Then your working processes will run as smooth as a baby’s bottom. But there won’t be a lot of new ideas coming up.

That’s why you don’t only look at hard skills during a job interview. Take Rock- or Superstar into consideration. That’s how you create a healthy mix of profiles in your organisation. When you have both rock- and superstars running around the office? Then you’ll generate a big flow of new ideas, and have an efficient roll-out.

Your companies mindset

 

The right people, only excel in the right environment. Do you want to create a higher chance of success for new ideas within your company? Then your environment should look a little bit like this:

New ideas come with a lot of uncertainties. You’re focusing on finding new things, your company is not confident in… yet. Your organization has to let go and be ok with these uncertainties. On top of that, Superstars need this type of freedom in order to shine.  

Superstars are at their best when they can experiment undisturbed. They need to make speed, have the room to fail, and learn. They’ll walk new paths and look for possibilities for your company. Being okay with failed projects is essential. When Superstars are afraid of making mistakes, the whole process will stagnate.

An environment that has the freedom to experiment, needs the support of the whole company. First, there is the financial support: invest time and resources.

Hate to break it to you, but generating ideas cost money. Do you want to consistently innovate on the highest level? Then your employees need time to work out new ideas. At BossData people can make it clear when they have new ideas. When that’s the case we’ll clear a part of their schedule to work it out.

Next, you need to think about your targets. Do you want to pursuit hard targets like growth in ROI? Then you’ll create impossible expectations. New ideas simply aren’t profitable starting from day 1. And during the exploit stage, there’s a bunch of investments you need to be willing to make. We’re talking about new software, new colleagues, etc. 

It’s better to work with a plan of growth. Focus on what you want to achieve in the long run when you talk about ROI: a venture capital style of investing.

 

The harmony between explore and exploit

Your company’s biggest challenge will be to create a harmony between explore and exploit efforts. You need to constantly think about shaping the future, while never losing track of the present. You need to create a culture where innovation and execution are equally important.

The most successful companies have found this harmony. The strongest companies can disrupt whole industries, and stay rocksteady during difficult times. They’ve found the perfect balance between rolling out new business ideas and keeping current services at a top-level.

 

The complete picture

 

Here’s a summary of what we touched upon in this blog.

Explore


Phase


Transition & exploit


Higher


Uncertainty


Lower


Search & Breakthrough


Focus


Efficiency and growth


Venture-capital style risk-taking: you need a clear idea of what investments will be made and what returns can be expected.


The
financial philosophy


‘Safe haven’ with steady returns: investments have been made in the past already to maintain a high standard of operations.


Iterative experimentation, embracing speed, failure, learning, and rapid adaptation.


Culture & Processes


Linear execution, embracing planning, predictability, and minimal failure.


Superstars: people who excel in uncertainty, are strong at pattern recognition, and can navigate between the big picture and details.


People
&
Skills


Rockstars: strong at organizing and planning and can design efficient processes to deliver on time and budget.


 

To generate enough ideas and realise the right ones, you’ll need a mix of people & mindset. Attract both Superstars as Rockstars for your company and create a professional environment where both will truly excel. Freedom and trust for Superstars. Structure, and a critical mindset for Rockstars.

Do you want to get started yourself? Start by plotting out your current services. Look at which of them are in the explore stage, and which of them are in the exploit stage. Then look at who’s involved in each service. 

Good luck!