This is one of the more difficult steps. Often the entrepreneurs themselves are the master of the product and therefore to duplicate means to find someone else to do the same thing and produce the similar if not same results. Emmmm…isn’t that challenging? A lot of variables such as experience, style, capacity, capability and ingenuity are questionable and hard to duplicate. Because of this, a lot of entrepreneurs and start-ups fail to expand their business beyond themselves. They are likely to become overworked and exhausted. Subsequently, they turn small minded on what used to be a big picture person – become small. Nevertheless, deep in their heart they know DUPLICATE is key. They certainly know DUPLICATE will definitely increase revenues, expand to new market and make their business sustainable for longer period.
How to DUPLICATE?
In manufacturing, DUPLICATE can be achieved using machines, technology and engineering processes. By creating the exact mould for product, you can mould it by millions. Additionally, you can outsource your production to manufacturing partners. Let say you own a patent for a particular product and you have enough money to commercialize it and you don’t want to own any manufacturing plant, you can look for generic manufacturer. Else you can have your own plant.
Another way to DUPLICATE is by documenting the processes. This is useful if you are in services particularly intangible products because this is how you make it tangible. Intangible product is more fluid and flexible. Say you are in consulting business, whilst your organization may have distinctive consulting approach but the deliverance varies from one consultant to another. Right? The experience of the person will give different impact. Some seemingly amateur in appearance, appeal the audience during presentation! Some look smart, but fail miserably when speaking. Elements of creativity, imagination and personal involvement will affect the delivery.
However, it is the perfect opportunity to invest in DUPLICATE because with this your consultant or services will meet minimum customer’s requirements. Anything more to this standard is bonus. You see my point? I call this minimum standard requirement or in some industries they associate it with SLA (Service Level Agreement). SLA dictates the nature of your service and it stipulates precisely the expected deliverables and non-deliverable of your service to the client.
One of the issues in DUPLICATE, is to duplicate exactly. Unless you are printing, moulding, stamping or manufacturing things, it would be very challenging to produce the exact results. This is common in service-based business. Say you are a top sales manager and you want to produce another top sales manager so you can take up the sales director vacant position. You train this person exactly how learned the last time, you give him everything you know, you recommend every book for him to read with the goal he will become like you. Sadly, DUPLICATE cannot give you this. Anyone that tells you they can, fire them! J
But, this is not the end of the story. There is a way to DUPLICATE well.
You can set standards that the minimum this person should achieve. You start with documentation by breaking down the skills, activities and performance metrics required. You itemized line by line on all these things. Yes, just like developing a manual. Here you can categorize minimum required achievement, average and top level achievement. You see, in some business the skills are varies. That is the reason you still need to set minimum required standards so the minimum result can be achieved. Anyone that fails to get even the minimum deem unfit for DUPLICATE. Don’t you think it helps you weed out the non-performing? You can also suggest a few others things to enhance performance such as tips, required reading list or key success factors.
I have seen a number of DUPLICATE related materials such as business processes, standard operating processes (SOP), operation manual, selling processes, marketing communication plan, product planning and so on. Truthfully, the effort you spend on it gives you different outcome and I can tell that the one with actual pictures, description boxes, appendices, tables, videos, audios, attachments, colours and so on are what we sought after. It is better to put more effort on DUPLICATE because it will definitely multiply your revenues potential.
On top of that, to make DUPLICATE even more successful a lot of reinforcement and training is required. Practice makes perfect! This is where difference between average outputs compares with superior output. The outcome also becomes better over time and more dynamic. In other words, the innovation is continuous until certain period, quite a long one, until it stabilizes. Besides, the feedback from the customers help to shape the minimum standard required. It is also natural to move the base line up or down between the industries as the expectation from each of them is unique.
I remember one experience that I had in product management meeting I attended. You see, this company has been successful in some of their IT products, but after 15 years in business they are unable to come up with another big bang to the market. As the client’s business becoming more complicated, the requirements sophistication complicates their current products. As if their product is lame and old school. This put pressure on price as the newer product with better usability is almost half the old ones! You experience this before? They assembled product development team which consists of senior management team and technicians. After a few meeting I was called to “see what I can do about it”. They are unable to think. What I did was, “Can you tell me how did you came up with the current product 10 years ago?”. They told me lots of stories on how serendipitous events that lead to that killer product. As usual, hardly anyone documenting it and everyone accepts the end product as miracle from God; instead of hours of thinking and ideas combined together in pressure cooker!
Some DUPLICATE such as engineering or IT products may require a lot of testings and compliance requirements. This kind of knowledge comes with lots of experience. You cannot afford to have someone that always need to go to drawing board with every product you want to launch (of course desirable retention plan should be part of this – will discuss in other post J) You need to document it somewhere so you can always refer back and avoid product recall! Always update your documents and manuals. In some companies, there is a department called “Document Control”. Usually it deals with versioning the main documents mostly legal, compliance and agreements. It is ok if you don’t have this department, but you need to start DUPLICATE. Remember, DUPLICATE is your revenue strategy.
Some may ask the right timing for DUPLICATE. If you look clearly the steps given in the formula BIDMM, DUPLICATE comes after INNOVATE. In other words, do not waste time developing processes when you are not sure what you want to do and who are your customers. I once trapped in this mode where my time laboured in this activity costs me hundreds of thousands. It is easy get engross with one activity and forgetting the remaining parts. One cannot be too busy with one’s mind.
Now you are done with DUPLICATE, you can go to the next step which is MARKETING. What is MARKETING and what are the focus areas?