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Anticipating Changes in Irresistible Forces: Secrets, Standards, and a Head Start

Apr 1, 2008
Confidential sources are cooperative advantages. Under American law, reporters aren't usually protected from legal processes ordering them to reveal their sources of information.

Yet hardly a year goes by without a reporter being sent to jail for contempt of court after refusing to reveal his or her sources.

What makes reporters so protective of their sources?

Think about the last time you shared a secret that was important to you with someone. It's probable that how much you revealed depended on how much you thought you could trust the other person to keep the secret.

In fact, if you were suspicious of the person's ability to keep silent, you may have even told the person a slightly different version of the secret. This would help protect you if the person did tell, by eliminating the most sensitive details.

This selective telling would also let you know who had told it if you later heard the story's unique details repeated by someone else.

On the other hand, if you absolutely trusted the person, you probably told her or him everything you knew and everything you guessed, and helped them to interpret what the information meant.

Reporters depend on that kind of candor to get great news stories, and to get them right.

For the same reasons, if you enter into mutually exclusive, mutually beneficial, and confidential relations with those you want to monitor, you can accomplish a great deal more.

You will exceed what will probably be the future best practice in anticipating shifting irresistible forces by gathering insights unavailable to those who only use public sources.

Standards of Comparison Make a Difference

To appreciate the advantages of having standards in place for purposes of comparison, consider the consumer packaged goods arena.

In that business, the expense of launching a new product is enormous. Most new products fail, and the longer you wait during development and introduction before pulling them, the more it ultimately costs you.

Clearly, understanding how the new product is doing throughout its development compared to some norm or standard of success would be very helpful.

As consumer packaged goods companies have become larger through internal expansion and acquisitions, some have been able to assemble an enormous quantity of information.

Some of the most valuable data concern the reactions that occur at all of the various stages of the development and testing process for successful versus unsuccessful new products.

Where enough information is available, some manufacturers can go so far as to factor in the effect of different irresistible forces (including the environment for consumer spending, competitive reactions, and how the product is priced and consumed).

For any such company, the savings from earlier terminations of unsuccessful products can be measured in hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Imagine the increased advantages of going one step further.

You assemble all of this data not only for your own company, but also for every noncompeting company you can find who will cooperate with you in the task.

Having this information would allow each of you to know more about the likely success or failure of a new product in advance of investing large amounts of time and money in it.

It would be to your advantage to initiate this service, because of the proprietary advantages you would gain in creating standards for making the comparisons. (Naturally, you'll have to be good at keeping a secret to keep their data confidential.)

You may decide to provide the simpler applications of this information for free if necessary to attract users. By spearheading the task, your organization will have the most exposure to the data and thus be able to derive the most insight from the information about irresistible forces.

Everyone else with access to these data would probably focus on using them only to evaluate new products in the absence of irresistible forces.

You could even go another step further and, over time, create a database on a country-by-country basis. Having this information would make developing new global brands enormously easier.

This task is probably an example of what will exceed the future best practice in developing new consumer packaged goods. Notice, too, that taking this step would make it hard for one of your competitors to overtake you in setting a better future best practice for anticipating how new products will do.
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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