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Add Breakthrough Solution Cost-Reduction Capability

Mar 2, 2008
Most organizations have only one person in them who knows how to create breakthrough solutions. Why? These individuals have usually learned about and created breakthrough solutions on their own, away from the spotlight that normally surrounds major new initiatives. Such breakthrough solutions are what I like to call "stealth" initiatives, which talented organization members are using to create increased organizational effectiveness.

However, when isolated from organizational sponsorship, these individuals are highly unlikely to expand this problem-solving knowledge within the organization. Why? These talented solvers have valid reasons not to do so, unless they happen to own the firm.

Here's one reason: Most careers are helped by being able to produce truly astonishing results that no one expects. By keeping quiet about the source of their success, these breakthrough solution cost reducers are able to climb quickly up the organizational ladder from one promotion to another. Their organizations appreciate and reward the results they see without understanding the source of the results. At the same time, the organizations fail to understand that virtually everyone in the organization could be producing similar results in a multitude of areas.

If the problem solver lets everyone in on the secret, there goes the easy route to the top. It's a rare individual who will take that step.

There's also a disincentive for problem solvers to become involved with educating others. Most problem solvers just want to get on with accomplishing something important. Training others often feels to talented breakthrough solution creators like not doing anything very useful.

There's another hurdle: Even if you understand how to do something, you may not be able to explain what to do to someone else. Since most such problem solvers have little background in helping others learn, the solvers are naturally reluctant to put effort into extending their skills in this new way. If solvers prove to not be very good at educational assistance, they have just created a failure on their record. Why would anyone want to take that risk of failure unless they owned the firm?

Another barrier is crossing functional lines. A few confident problem solvers simply share the opportunity with colleagues in other parts of the organization and engage their support. Most solvers, however, stick to improving activities pursued by those who report to the solver. As soon as problem solvers run out of areas where they can make direct improvements, the solvers are done with making breakthrough solutions.

A more significant barrier is avoiding embarrassment to others. If you show someone else they could be doing the work 20 times faster or better, in many cases you've made the person feel incompetent. If the people involved are notoriously thin-skinned, few will propose improvements because of the potential to be caught in a backlash from those who feel embarrassed. Yes, some organizations do shoot the messenger.

How might these barriers and limitations be avoided without drawing all of the fuss, skepticism, and expense that comes with an officially sponsored activity? Undoubtedly, there are more ways to do this than I've thought of or seen, but let's start you off with a brief list of opportunities that have worked well:

-Find a life-saving application.

-Explore an injury-avoiding opportunity.

-Identify a way to avoid environmental pollution and make profitable use of what would otherwise be wasted.

-Present the process as a possible methodology for a task force that's unclear about how to proceed.

-Introduce the methodology to those who are missing their goals by a wide margin and are likely to be demoted or fired unless they quickly improve.

-Use the methodology to deal with a crisis that requires quick action.

-Make courses based on the breakthrough solution methodology available to those with budgets in your organization to pay for personal learning.

For entrepreneurs, there are some additional choices worth considering:

-Build improved business models around 2,000 percent solutions for expanding the market size, customer acquisition, and cost reductions.

-Direct mandatory training and assignments in creating breakthrough solution cost reductions.

-Offer training to partners, suppliers, distributors, and other key stakeholders with incentives for improved performance.

-Hold contests for the public to propose breakthrough solutions for key activities.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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