Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 144 – Qualifying That “Idea” To Strategic Bet

Dear leaders, I am often asked
“How do we make our big ideas work?” 

The answer is simple really, it is the refining and qualifying of ideas. 

Or the question should be reframed as: This is where ideas have to be transformed into qualified strategic bets

Think Back & Set Others Up To Succeed: We have all been there, we have a brilliant idea, we set ourselves up to pitch the idea, we may have been invited for a slot in the Management Team Meeting and then you are faced with a barrage of questions, the idea feels like it is dashed in ten minutes. I have sat in the management team meeting and clearly remember a great idea full of potential dashed in under 60 seconds. 

You have two options (1) refine and attempt another slot or (2) re-shape your idea into a qualified strategic bet. 

Option 2 is the only way forward.

A quick note: 

Pitching The Right Bet – this is where the right person and right people are vitally important. The structure and the delivery are essential, not only for the bet to succeed and be championed but for you to know who makes decisions to make and how to approach the conversation. 

The reason why an idea is often counterproductive is it’s sounds half baked, it isn’t validated and qualified in your environment. 

What decision-makers need is two simple things
(1) confidence
(2) strong evidence that is shaped and qualified enough they don’t need to invest hours grooming, modelling the finance and re-shaping and re-prioritising existing work streams or roadmaps. 

Move from idea to bet before attempting to pitch to senior management. 

The Focus Idea To Bet Qualification

The Bet Build – Visalise the bet for all stakeholders.
Use words, use imagery, even create a wireframe or potentially a prototype or provide a live example (in or outside of your market) that could enable visual people to understand it or play with it. 

For those with time constraints or typically biased towards excel – add the table with the growth numbers. 

Untold Truth: The better the storytelling, the better the visuals, and the more exciting it is, the more it builds a connection to the idea. 

The more qualified the tables and financial numbers are, the better the response from finance and core business decision-makers, if you don’t get the green light from the founder/CEO and their yes-no person the CFO the likelihood of this bet getting the leadership team’s full support is minimal.  

Create A Definitive Exec Summary: 

Think of an amended Amazon working backwards: 

  • The bet in one sentence 
  • Who is the customer 
  • The benefits of the bet 
    • to customer  
    • & then to the company 
  • The problem(s) being solving 
  • Time to make an impact? 
  • Measurable goals and metrics (show big number to wow moment)
  • Link to FAQ’s of the bet – think of the big questions ahead of time 

Link to Focus Idea To Bet framework as your own Google Doc

Why We Should Stop X And Run Towards This – the important element that rarely anyone suggests to include is: 

  • Why run towards this bet, and what advantages does it have? 
  • Can it replace something already on the roadmap? (hint at projects struggling to make an impact or are earmarked for the future)
  • Or does it deserve people and money budget allocation? 

If you can’t provide a realistic timeline with resource requests here, it is not qualified enough. 

What Would The 3 Main Tasks Be – these have to be clear, they have to be fully thought through and be able to understood by finance, product and marketing alongside other senior members of the company. 

Key Metrics To Success – what are the leading indicators that prove we are on the right track for this bet? What time frame are you suggesting?

Then clearly call out the 3 core metrics you will be using to understand success of the big bet over the first week, first month, first quarter, first year.
This step in the process often will kill creative people’s idea and qualify them as a strategic bet. 

Revenue Impact With Confidence – this is often the falling down of big bets within companies, being able to get into the excel master sheet, get into the existing budget or financial plan and apply other people’s logic into the idea and show how this will grow revenue (use common internal metrics like downloads, daily usage, churn reduction, number of qualified leads etc) broken down month by month. Unfortunately, this is also the issue most people have it is likely a guess as it might be brand new or it might be unproven in your market, arm yourself with confident data points and make realistic impact numbers. 

The essential point to take away here is, unfortunately, even with the best prep, best financial modelling and brilliant pitch, the odds of an investment into bets can be low. Even as a c-suite leader your strategic bet might not make the cut. 

This week, empower your teams by improving their working practices and creating the ability to pitch the highest qualified strategic bets to the business. A bank of brilliantly qualified bets is better than a recycling bin and miro boards full of post it notes. 

Thanks and have a great week focusing your business,

Danny Denhard

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