Note: In an effort to not be late this week, I’m publishing my initial thoughts (almost) on time. I look forward to reflecting more on these initial thoughts in light of your feedback and the clarity that time often brings.
It felt good to write last week’s post. It forced me to think about my goals, articulate them, and think about a plan of action for bringing them to life. Finally, I had to wrangle ideas that had been floating around in my mind for months and try to make sense of them!
In response to my post, I was presented with questions that really gave me pause:
“What type of energy company would you like to start? Is this a company that generates power, manufactures infrastructure for clean energy projects, etc.? Sky’s the limit, so what feels right?” (Thanks, Ale 😉
My answer then, and even now is, “I don’t know”.
I went into the Incubator with the idea in mind that I wanted to start an energy company to model good practice in the energy industry. But, to be honest, the idea of starting an energy company is big, intimidating, and procrastination-provoking for me. I don’t have a background in the energy sector or business; right now, I’m not even in a position to say what’s feasible in terms of starting the business.
But today’s reading from the alternative prompt ” What is it for” helped shift my focus from my daunting, nebulous “what” to a new way to think about my “why”. This in turn, has helped me move a step closer to determining what my what should look like.
In “Who-and What- Will Customer’s Become”, Michael Schrage posits that innovative companies are those that have a vision of the customers it wants to create. Rather than focusing on simply marketing its products to people who may need or want them, an innovative company asks how its products will rebrand or reposition its customers.
This means shifting focus from asking how a company can meet the needs of customers today with its products to how a company can create the customer it wants to meet the needs of in the future.
Schrage points to Apple as an example of an innovative company. He talks about how Apple, driven by Steve Jobs’ passion for design and quality, became a company that focused on creating customers that share that passion. They set a bar that customers adopted as their own.
It’s interesting to me that Apple places so much emphasis on design aesthetic and technological innovation while placing so little emphasis on ensuring that the supply chain for its products reflects a commitment to ethical (by Western standards) labor practices, environmental stewardship, or investing profits in communities where people make and/or purchase Apple products.
Anyway, I realized by reading the article that I, too, have a bar that I’m looking to set for customers to adopt. This brings me back to my why. My customer feels good about themselves when they demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship, investment in communities that they serve, and creating quality jobs for local people. They are critical of Big Industry and want to be a part of shifting resources towards local enterprise and are conscious of their impact in the world.
I still have some work to do to drill down on the company’s customer even further. I’m hopeful that the exercise will lead me to a better understanding of whether the customer is a company (i.e. figuring out how this company could intersect with existing supply chains) or a community (i.e. figuring out how this company could generate power for businesses and or people).
RS: Am I cut out for this? Am I really committed to this?