“How to engage High Standards and measurement against ANY initiative.”
by Todd Mitchem
When we founded High There! then in my stage as the CEO of this emerging tech start up in fastest growing industry, cannabis, I was faced daily with many decisions. My team and I worked to make fast decisions that get results against desired goals. But in our tech start up world opportunities come very fast and on the surface all seems to be the right ones. Admittedly I often get caught up in the new idea or opportunity and want to run down a path. So I pulled from my past experience in the world of learning and development and built what we now call the High There! Nine. It’s our own custom filter for determining if and how to take on new initiatives. As we worked on this list it quickly became apparent to me that these were universal and needed to be shared. If they help your business write me and let me know. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
1) Brand Impact – Seems so simple, yet many business leaders are chasing the next shiny object. Instead of asking how the initiative will impact their brand, they force an initiative by thinking they “must” do a thing in the name of revenue raise, or marketing. Forgetting to measure something against this important metric forces you to justify brand impact and that is a path toward disaster. Starbucks made this mistake once when they overemphasized the “need” for more products in their stores and faster expansion. This nearly destroyed their business and when they rebooted the company they did so focused on key brand attributes. A simple measure that saved their company.
2) Database Impact (or Customer) – In our tech game the magic is database. We are always seeking more satisfied users. The good news is that we don’t really have competition because users flock to many apps on a daily basis.. Your databse or customer base is no different. Any project or campaign will have an impact on your customer. The question is have you discussed at length what your goals are around this and how the proposed plan will achieve a desired outcome?
3) Consider the Demographic – Another way we talk about Demo is “Meeting them where they are.” In other words, we always need to know who we are talking to. From a simple company message to a large PR campaign, I need to understand my target audience even more than my talking points. If I want to deal a harsh message to media because I am opinionated about how they talk about cannabis legalization, I need to first ask myself what demo would hear that message. Once I understand the demographic I am better equipped to alter the message so that it resonates properly and positively.
4) Risk – Many people on a team will become very excited and blinded by a new idea. They need someone to bring them back down to reality and discuss the risk or unintended consequences of the initiative. In our High There!, as an example, we pondered keeping the “distance from you” feature so that it would show you as close as less than .10 of a mile. That is pretty damn close. As an example, if you live in a small town in Colorado, that distance is in your back yard. So we discussed the risk of this close proximity indicator and decided to default it to one mile. Now women could feel safe knowing they’re not being reported as in the same building as someone. The result was that more and more women joined High There! because they felt safer.
5) Cost – Not a complicated category. You simply need to know basic costs of everything. Just don’t get caught in the trap of thinking a first pass at cost discussion will get you where you need to go. The discussion of costs will need more scrutiny. Everything from product development to brand materials, to flyers, cost money. Get real about the detail of the budget and you will save yourself the headache of a heated discussion with your team later when the cost of your initiative skyrockets. If cost exceeds your existing revenue or financial means, it can stop the entire initiative or be used to creative a very innovative solution.
6) ROI – Ah, the infamous ROI. Return on Investment. We often despise to talk about this important subject but I put this in for a reason. At this stage of “The High There Nine” the team needs a reflection point. They need to refocus for a moment and work backward through the list to ensure any financial spend will be justified. Will the cost get us the proper brand impact while driving customers or users? Will this ROI be worth the risk? This is a powerful moment because it forces the decision of overall project impact and I call it the “go-no-go” moment. If you or your team can’t decide on ROI and you are not satisfied with it, then it may be time to move to a new idea or revisit and revise the rest of the Nine.
7) Scalable – When we are looking at any new spend, initiative, or idea for the app, we are asking the important question about scalability. Can we scale this feature or idea on a national, global or big scale? The answer helps us have a discussion about how we expand or use the success of this initiative.
8) People Resources – Often companies will neglect to reflect on an important cost. People resources. For example, if I decide to go a speak at a conference the first people resource is me. My time preparing, writing, traveling to, and actually speaking is vast. I will be able to work during my travel, but ultimately I am hard to reach. But in this example other resources are exercised. Our social media person Megan will need to spend her time before during and after talking about my presentation. Our PR person Rosie will be moving media my direction and may even need to travel herself to my location. When you are considering your next initiative remember this valuable resource.
9) BPO, Best Possible Outcome – What can go right? Many people spend a large amount of time focused on the “What can go wrong scenario” and this is a terrible way to make something successful happen. There is a saying I use frequently, “What you focus on is what you get.” If you spend your time on the negative potential you are more likely to create it. Instead focus on the BPO and you will discover what’s possible. The devil’s advocate is something that we should all remove from our cultures. By talking about the best possible outcome you will innovate a path, plan and tactics to actually be successful.
Feel free to message me @toddmitchem on Twitter for more insight or questions.