Whether you like it or not, everything that you currently offer your customers follows a life cycle. As time passes, the demands of your customers will change and you need to be prepared to adapt to that.
“What got you here won’t get you there” Marshall Goldsmith
If you are in the process of building your strategic plan or mapping out your product pipeline, a key step is assessing how your current offerings are doing. Below is an activity for you to do with your team to get everyone on the same page when it comes to your products and services.
Every product and service that you offer will follow this bell curve. Always assume that your offerings are sliding towards the right side of the curve. However, some may be sliding faster than others depending on the situation.
Innovations – These are your new-to-market products or services. This could be an offering that was launched this year or in previous years, but is still new in its journey.
On the Bubble – These are currently your most successful products or service. These offerings have good margin and you are able to hold the price.
Commodities – These are the offerings that have lost momentum. You are competing on price instead of value.
Here are the steps to take to run the Product/Service Life Cycle activity with your team:
Step 1: Draw out the life cycle curve on a large surface such as a white board or flip chart.
Step 2: Have your team members plot out on the curve where they believe each offering is in its life cycle. This can be done one person at a time or with a group vote.
Step 3: Openly discuss why each offering was plotted in a specific place on the curve. Make sure someone is writing down everything that is said about each product or service so that you can create a summary after the session.
Here are some points to consider for each offering:
• Is it unique in the market?
• What are customers saying?
• How well is it selling?
• Are employees passionate about it?
• Are competitors selling the same thing?
Step 4: Step back and reflect as a team. Now that all of your offerings are plotted out on the curve, have each team member reflect out loud what observations stand out to them.
Here are some examples of what you might see:
• An even split in all categories
• Too many offerings in the commodity section
• Not enough in the innovation section
• Too many offerings overall
Step 5: Decide what to do with each offering – Milk, Reinvent or Kill.
As a team discuss what you will do with each of your offerings moving forward. Here are a few choices:
Milk it – Keep running with the product as it is. Perhaps you will tweak a few things, but you aren’t planning to make any fundamental changes to the offering.
Reinvent it – Perhaps there is a product or service that is losing momentum, but you believe that if you fundamentally change how you deliver it, you can set it back on a growth path, this is the time to reinvent.
Kill it – Sometimes a product or service has run its course and it is no longer worth the effort of your team to produce and sell it. Killing an offering can be hard to do, but as an organization, you can only put your energy towards so many offerings to make them successful. When you decide to kill an offering, you are freeing up resources to work on other things or to add new things into your innovation section. This will help set you up for future success.
This activity will generate great engagement and meaningful discussion from your team and will give you a good starting point as you begin to map out your future.
When you are ready to run this activity with your team, let us know and we’d be happy to send you a worksheet with instructions to assist you.