What would Google do?

I read the book What Would Google Do? over a month ago and it's still spawning insights in my mind. Over the weekend, I was exploring how Jeff Jarvis's concepts could apply to launching a new preschool. As I talked it out with a friend, I had a familiar experience of "the best way to learn something is to teach it, tie it into some other ideas and make it clearer to someone else". This morning I realized a way to present the challenge as seven upgrades to our thinking about value propositions, business models and competitive strategies. I'll present three of these transitions today and the remaining four tomorrow.

From commercial hubris to networked humility: When launching or expanding an enterprise, it's tempting to become "all things to all people". The idea of offering "one stop shopping" and cultivating a brand as the "The Trusted Source" spawns a bubble of conceit. We lose sight of "serving all masters serves none well" or how we'll end up paying the price for "getting too big for our britches". We then become receptive to Jeff Jarvis's concept of "do what you do best and link to the rest". We humbly offer what we naturally excel at and rely on the network to fill in our gaps, blind-spots, shortcomings and biases. Choosing a niche strategy of specialization is far less compromising in a world with link-saturated, resource web pages that rise in page rankings with all those page visits and click thrus.

From changing the customers' conduct to supporting what the customers are already doing: When we're penetrating a market that is not yet buying what we're selling, we see the need to change the customers' conduct. We facing a tough sell, uphill battle and wall of resistance. We tell ourselves we cannot lighten up, back off or give in. We become bullies or sharks that develop reputations for marketing scams, false impressions and deceitful practices. When we make it easier for customers to solve their own problems and get the results they've been seeking, our offer sells itself. They hijack the brand, tell their own story about what we're offering and get the deal to go viral. They want the enterprise to succeed because it works for them as a tool, aid or facilitator of what they've already been doing with difficulty.

From high-profile professional to low-profile platform host: When the products/services being offered require a big, upfront investment, we fall prey to putting faith in factory business models. We imagine the customers as passive consumers who cannot compete with or complete for themselves -- what we offer. We assume they lack the education, equipment and experience to rival our expert professionalism. We live in a read-only world of ink on paper, mass media and manufactured goods. When we get the idea of providing a platform for "user generated content", we change to a read/write world of digital content that gets tagged, ranked, customized, remixed, mashed up, fictionalized, favorited, and linked to from other digital content. We provide places for customers to join, contribute, share, upload, vote, rank and comment as they see fit.

to be continued here ....

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