05 September 2005

1:100 Redux

[Note: Another recent Jenius post was picked up by Global Voices.]

A few friends were intrigued by my recent 1:100 post. Commentary, suggestions and even a few criticisms were tossed at The Jenius. A suggestion is analyzed, one criticism is deemed merited and the others are shown to be off the mark.

The merited criticism is that My description of the process did not identify Apex as a small to medium-sized business, i.e., a company that would receive a very positive impact from a $500,000 revenue increase in one quarter. That was a definite oversight.

A second criticism extended to the amount of money each team member would make if an idea was accepted: $1,000 per member, for a total of $5,000. The Jenius was told no company would pay that, to which My reply is: Yes, the smart ones will. Though that might be a circular argument, the fact is that any company reviewing the 1:100 concept would understand that the challenege--and value--lies not in the money expended, but in the result created. If you could buy lottery tickets for $5,000 with the guarantee of winning $500,000, wouldn't you do it?

Ah, but that leads to a third criticism: what if the idea doesn't work? The Jenius was almost accused of smarmily side-stepping the issue by placing a priori blame on the company for not executing properly. The 1:100 concept takes into account that whatever ideas are presented must be done so within the context of the business as it is in order to be accepted for what they can do. If the company's leaders can see a clear path between idea, potential execution and potential benefit, is it the team's fault if--after they leave--the execution and/or result are not up to potential? The 1:100 team is hired to create a launch pad, not pilot the spaceship into and through the ether.

Another comment was that 1:100 was not very impressive, that 1:1,000 should have been used. (It was couched as a suggestion, so The Jenius took it as a comment, not criticism.) The Jenius agrees, but understands that most people will not believe that a 1:100 ratio can be achieved as indicated, so offering 1:1,000 would simply overwhelm the mind: $5,000 for a $5 million return in 90 days? Also, let's face it: if any of Us could create a return for a small to medium-sized business in the $5 million/90 days range, he/she/they would definitely be worth much much than $5,000.

Another criticism is that The Jenius was focusing on short-term gain with a possible long-term loss, something He has fought against most of His career. Too many businesses make short-term decisions that kill their long-term prospects: hiring too soon or too many, accepting too large a contract too soon, etc. The Jenius accepts that a company could be faced with this dilemma, but the team itself would be aware of this potential mistake and would seek ways to avoid long-term pitfalls. It can be expected that the company leaders would ask what can be expected beyond the 90-day framework and acceptance of the idea(s) would require a cogent and reasonable answer.

Another criticism is that by only increasing revenue, the team could lead a company to grow too fast or take too big a risk. That criticism implies that the 1:100 team would ignore the danger of over-extending the company, ignore the power of "cost reduction plus revenue increase" and ignore the reality of using the company's current resources to the fullest extent possible. That's simply out of the question because ignoring those "details" makes the team's task virtually impossible to achieve.

And finally, one friend indicated that The Jenius was setting up the team to have their ideas ripped off, for what's to stop a company from simply listening (or recording) everything, then deciding to stiff Us, collect Our money and then do the best idea(s) anyway? A Non-Disclosure Agreement would be needed going in (the company would be providing sensitive data), but nothing would compel a company to act in an honorable manner other than the moral and ethical values of its leaders. The Jenius believes that most people are decent, honest and will play fair. The few that don't, though, could discover that within a few days of their "rejection" of the 1:100 team's idea(s), the team is now working for their competitor. A Non-Compete Agreement would solve that potential problem, one that defines that the 1:100 team would not work for a competitor for a period of one year after they were paid for their idea(s). Fairly standard arrangement for consulting and most likely would keep 90% of the potential vermin away from the concept.

The Jenius thanks those who took the time to discuss the 1:100 concept. And to the person who asked why The Jenius selected the gentlemen listed, here is a partial reply: Several more people could have been listed. The Jenius has the fortune of knowing quite a few Geniuses...and relishes the opportunity to work with any and all of them.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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