This afternoon I had lunch with a group of executives frustrated with the eternal challenge all innovators face: how to get people to invest in the long term when everyone is worried about generating immediate revenue. There is no easy solution to this problem. If you are raising capital, trying to budget funds, striving to build something new in the midst of a crisis when the pull is toward survival, you have struggled with this challenge.
Here is a simple framework I have used for the past five years that helps us break down the issue into a structure that can help you win. I call it G.A.M.E. (Goal, Audience, Message, Engage).
Step 1: Clarify your goal. What effect do you want to have? How do you want to reorder the system? What do you want to be true? For example, as I now seek to raise capital to build a digital collaboration tool, my vision is clear. I want thousands of teams making better, faster, more innovative decisions. I want them connecting virtually and asynchronously to design strategies that will grow their businesses.
Step 2: Assess your audience. Who are your natural supporters? Who are your natural detractors? How can you influence the former while keeping the latter on the sidelines? My natural supporters are my clients who have already bought into my process and the angel investors who want to be part of something that could change how people work. My detractors are mostly those who think what we have today is the best we could hope for and traditional venture capitalists who think collaboration looks like masses of people sharing ideas in an unstructured mess. They won’t resist me so much as they will say “no” and potentially rob the passion from my team.
Step 3: Craft your message. For each audience type, what messages will help them see the promise of supporting you? My clients want their people to practice what they learned in my workshops, so their message is: there are thousands of decisions being made without thinking, people simply repeating what they have always done because they don’t have time to stop and think of a better way. For angel investors the message is: the face of collaboration is shifting, everyone is now connected, they are comfortable with Twitter and Facebook. Now is the opportunity to direct their interactions more purposefully, provide structure.
Step 4: Decide how to engage your audience in the message. Don’t jump immediately to PowerPoint. Show them a demo, take them on a field trip, shape the environment on which they receive your message. I was finding it difficult to explain the tool I want to build. But on a recent 10-hour flight I hammered out a mockup with pictures and stories. Now when I share this with people, they get it.
I have a chapter dedicated to this process in my book, Outthink the Competition. But even though I wrote it and teach it, I forget to use it myself. Walk through these steps and you may come out on the other end finding the path of least resistance, the master strategy, and creating the impact you wish to have in the world.
[Image: Flickr user Steve Corey]