Many people encounter things that they would like to change at work. Very quickly it becomes clear that it makes no sense to complain and/or say that other people should change. Then nothing happens at all. Besides, all sorts of things irritate you. That only costs a lot of negative energy. There is another way. If you take your own responsibility and “go on a journey”, then everything comes into motion. Then all of a sudden all kinds of unexpected people and new possibilities will come on your path. They are full of potential opportunities but also possible threats. Your goal, belief in yourself and the will to learn are then of decisive importance. This article explains how we brought SixBlocks solution to the market in six phases. If you want to bring your idea to the market, you will probably go through the same six phases.
Before we as 3 founders started SixBlocks solution at the end of 2018, all three of us were successful entrepreneurs for between 20 and 25 years. Erwin Vogelzang in HR, Jan-Willem Bozuwa in accountancy and me (Joost de Wit) in pensions. In the past years, we have seen opportunities, seized them, overcome many difficult situations, set goals and ultimately successfully realised most of them. This is logical, because otherwise you would never keep up the entrepreneurship for so long. In short, prior to SixBlocks solution we were already experienced senior professionals, real entrepreneurs.
In fact, we saw and see new opportunities precisely because of this. That is how SixBlocks solution started. We started developing and marketing a disruptive solution for administrative organisations in business and government across the board. This is really something significantly different from what we were used to. The accompanying journey was and is, perhaps precisely because of this, super inspiring and therefore we can recommend it to everyone.
Turning an idea into reality is a journey of trial and error. When you begin, you often have no idea what that journey will look like, what you will encounter and where you will end up. This was and is also the case with us. By looking at it from a distance, we can summarise the past and present period in six phases:
- The problem
- The solution plus initial feedback
- Apply focus
- Powerful pitch
- Freer thinking and action
- Current positioning
All phases were and are interesting with several surprising twists, both on the positive and the negative side. The funny thing is that we consider all turns, whether positive or negative, as situations for the next step. From that perspective, it does not matter at all if a turn is negative or positive. You then actually only see opportunities and subjects to work on. You become smarter in the way you look at situations and how you deal with them. This clever behaviour ensures that the next step is then very logical. In the rest of this article, we will zoom in on the above six phases, and you can use them to your advantage in your situation for your idea during your journey.
1. The problem
Our journey begins with situations that our potential customers encounter. Many small and large organisations have a complex ICT landscape with inflexible systems and fragmented knowledge of business processes. This is all very annoying in itself, but on top of this there is also a constant stream of changes such as new legislation and regulations and mergers/acquisitions. And actually everyone within those organisations is like: “What a fuss this is; this really has to change”.
The complexity is not at all pleasant for the people working in the organisations, everyone agrees. Moreover, it does not create the desired solutions for their customers, the costs are far too high and it all takes far too long to serve the customer properly. There must be a significant simplification, and in fact there is a need for it throughout the world. Because this situation is recognisable everywhere, in the business world and in government across the board.
We were not able to substantiate it exactly at the beginning either, but it is very good for your idea as well if a serious problem is solved. In our case, that is the administrative red tape that many organisations have been struggling with for years.
2. The solution plus initial feedback
The strange thing is that there are very large companies which put a lot of money into solving this problem but that, each time, their solutions may work for a small part but not for the whole organisation. It’s is crazy, but this actually offers opportunities for a completely different solution. The leading focus is an approach based on the bigger picture and the monitoring of the central vision in the long term.
Working out the most suitable solution is a creative process. With regard to the solution for the administrative hassle, we arrive at a pattern of six blocks that must be adaptable at all times. This overarching pattern can be recognised in the entire administrative organisation from top left to bottom right. It is applicable to the departments involved in marketing, product development, communication, legal affairs, sales, administration and reporting, etc., everywhere. Even better is that if you apply this pattern structurally in all places, the mutual coherence between all focus areas is guaranteed and consistent. Even better is the fact that the proof that this principle actually works has been delivered in a first rough version of the software. This gives energy and the feeling of: Woww, that’s it! Of course, this is how it should be. After all, all organisations want simplicity and would embrace our solution. This idea is going to conquer the world very soon. At least, that is what we thought.
The problem of red tape is comprehensive and of a strategic nature for every organisation. Behind the scenes, there are all kinds of interests at play. That makes it all a lot more difficult. Who exactly is ultimately responsible? Who takes the decision about such processes? Is the person who previously made the decisions for the too expensive and too long change processes the right person? Is what we are doing in their interest? Which suppliers are involved who have an interest in the current situation? Who are the other people directly involved? These kinds of questions play an essential role.
If you include these questions, there is a good chance that the feedback from the initial discussion partners will turn out to be different from what you expect/hope. For example, a few people think it is a good idea, but they are not the decision-makers. A few people don’t get it because they don’t dare. Others say that so many things have been tried before but failed every time. And some do not have the time to listen to it properly because they are far too busy.
We wrote the article “The Business Rules Canvas, how it started at Watersley and the Brightlands Campus” about the learning experience that helped us a lot.
3. Apply focus
Oh goodness, the target group obviously has a long way to go to actually connect with our good idea. How do we get it done now?
So our potential customers do not immediately embrace our idea. It seems as if nobody really wants to understand the idea. Fortunately, we are like: “yes but wait a minute, maybe we can tell our story just a little differently and perhaps we can hook up other people who are much more in tune with our target group”. It is actually quite logical that our idea took people by surprise in the first phase. We’d better approach it differently and make it a bit smaller at first.
By breaking the whole thing down into small steps and starting at the beginning, our message comes across much better, we reasoned. The potential client can do a lot himself in this respect. Their input can be used to improve the idea, just this first piece of it. In this way, we speak exactly the language of the potential client and keep it small and clear. We connect precisely to what is going on with our discussion partners at that particular moment. We map out the situation that is going on there and then they identify what they would like to change.
The fact that people do not understand it at first, therefore offers opportunities. All sorts of new surprises suddenly appear on your path. By listening and looking at the feedback with a different focus, you use it as valuable input to continuously improve yourself and your idea. By collecting the pluses and minuses of the feedback and looking at it with an open-mindset, the feedback suddenly looks completely different. It immediately offers opportunities. What’s more, the input collected makes the problem much clearer to your potential customers and, what’s more, there is an even greater need for your solution. At least, if you are open to polishing your solution a little.
In our case, we are constantly improving our solution so that it perfectly matches the primary needs of our potential customers. We do this with the flexible Business Rules Canvas which is very easy to explain.
By dealing with feedback in this way, your idea becomes much better and, perhaps more importantly, it creates personal growth in yourself. You suddenly feel very different and you gain more and more self-confidence. You know how to use your seniority and professionalism better and better. Potential clients notice this and enjoy talking to you. Your discussion partners explain their own situation on the basis of your questions, which become better and better. This automatically brings them to the point where they would really like to see their current situation change.
Our potential customers want more overview, more simplicity and more commitment from the entire organisation. They want a sustainable solution that makes it easy to respond to changes in their environment. They want to tackle the road to this solution together with you because they trust you and now they know that you are the specialist. Look, and now you are suddenly getting very different feedback than in phase one.
4. Powerful pitch
The discussion partners like to talk about their own ambitions and about the ideal situation they would like to see for themselves. And this ideal situation is much closer than the discussion partners thought a short time ago. That is great to see; people create their own vision by answering all your questions. By approaching the conversation in this way, your discussion partnersare actually inspiring themselves.
In our case, they express the need in their own words for a solution that almost completely corresponds to our Business Rules Canvas. We feel that and so do our discussion partners. It becomes more and more interesting. Because, of course, we are not talking to one person from one organisation, but to several people from several organisations. This is a great learning experience for us, because there are many cross-links between these different organisations. Because of the flexibility of the Business Rules Canvas, we can respond to anything, and the discussion partners themselves become the specialists in their own market segment. That is how they experience it.
In the intervening periods, all this input is further used to refine the idea. What problem do the discussion partners recognise? What is the common thread? What words do they use? What exceptions are there? What do they really want? Who are the decision-makers? Which specialists influence the decision? The answers to these questions are given by people from the target group(s) themselves, resulting in a powerful pitch, a convincing demonstration and a fitting plus logical proposal with variants for the first steps of the possible cooperation from which the potential customer can choose. Patterns are clearly recognisable in all conversations and the potential customers thus receive confirmation that they are 100% on the right track.
5. Freer thinking and action
Hey, this is all going much better. The potential customers now experience inspiration, are motivated and full of positive energy. Everything starts to move from the moment of perseverance after the first feedback round and the holy belief in the idea. The result of that mindset and daring to communicate openly about it, ensures that potential customers have/had confidence in it.
By recognising this and actually feeling it, there is much more freedom in thinking and acting. Potential clients experience invitations very differently from the first feedback and they are inspired by the positive energy that is present. They trust the people who came up with the idea, believe in the idea and want to be there. Concrete products/services are purchased and these, in turn, inspire follow-up assignments. Wow, this is so cool, it’s really fantastic!
This inspiring character is the result of your own inspiration to be open to all feedback and the capacity to translate it into short- and long-term added value. In our case, the Business Rules Canvas was born out of multiple sources of inspiration. For example, read about the inspiration we received from painter Bob Ross in the article “What do Bob Ross and the Business Rules Canvas have in common?“.
Your discussion partners also grow as people through the inspiration they receive. It becomes easier and easier to deal with negative feedback. You receive it with a smile and give it its rightful place, perhaps somewhere at the bottom of your own ‘memory centre’. You do the same with the positive feedback and it will probably end up in a much higher position. By thanking the discussion partners for their input, you automatically process it in your own professional way. What fits the idea is taken on board and if not, it is a matter of letting go. Both are fine, because both the positive and the negative input help you to recognise what does work. By focusing on that, things will eventually happen by themselves.
6. Current positioning
This positive development encourages potential customers to raise the bar a little. They are now embracing the game of idea, sharing, learning and improving and are finding it increasingly easy to get into their own systems. As a result, that higher level is also becoming easier. “If this is possible now, so much more is possible”, potential customers say. And of course it is possible. Now it is time to really start harvesting. Just like sowing, harvesting is also a question of one step at a time. People/organisations that are already positive in this phase are the first to pick up the thread. They are already enthusiastic. Of course, they are primarily looking at what is in it for them, but they also grant you success, because they know that you grant them success.
The added value of awareness and the creation of collective commitment among potential customers within their own organisation is enormous. It makes them realise where they really stand and where they can really grow as a collective. In this way, the impact is much greater. The market has realised that the rules of the game have changed. These new rules are based entirely on the use of common sense and that has many advantages. In our situation, the Business Rules Canvas is about visualising all the business processes and their mutual relationships in the simplest way possible. And suddenly everyone gets it and there is a collective commitment. That gives a wonderful feeling about the integral administrative organisation.
In this phase, we have, among other things, positioned our brand well, professionalised our website, worked out the design plus prototype to perfection, detailed the Essentials programme and realised the corresponding physical material. The Business Rules Canvas is now very clear. The first customers trigger other people/organisations to take a look at what they are doing. These other people/organisations then increasingly visit our website, our LinkedIn profiles etcetera and ask others if they have heard of our idea. And then of course it is great that we have a good fitting name, a clear visualisation and a market strategy so that when people see our brand they are already positively triggered about our idea. They understand it immediately and have a good feeling about it from the first moment.
We did not do all this alone. In the meantime, our network organisation has grown to include several companies and individuals. In total, we now draw on a pool of around 50 employees in various fields: marketing, UX/UI design, high-tech technology, training and entrepreneurs etcetera. They are all people with a creative mindset, common sense and guts. We are very proud of this pool of people, will cherish them and in the coming period we will further expand the pool.
And if you are wondering whether we have made mistakes, I can tell you: plenty. Will we not make mistakes in the future? We will, but the most important thing is that we have learned a lot and remain open to new insights. We continue our journey, always happy to be positively surprised by anyone or anything. In the article “The road to an inspiring mission and vision“, we explain our underlying purpose.
All phases are interesting with several surprising twists. I can already tell you that your own idea will never be successful from one day to the next. Then you are much too early. And if you stay stuck in your idea for too long and don’t put it into practice, you will be far too late. Hey, that sounds like a Cruijffianish saying. This is no coincidence, as Johan Cruijff also inspired us to write the article: 14 Cruijffianish sayings about SixBlocks.
Inspiration for you
Hopefully, this article will give you the right inspiration to turn your own idea into reality. In any case, the basis is your own idea, which does not come out of the blue but is fundamentally sound. Your personality will do the rest and you can develop it further along your journey. With passion, perseverance, an open mindset, the desire to improve all the time, to serve the market and, above all, to have fun, you will succeed.