The Dynamic Enterprise

What is the question to which your enterprise is the answer?

Questions and Value

In an earlier section I talked about an organization's need to understand why people engage with its products or services, and understanding the motivation at the root of behaviors resulting in products or services being purchased and used. I suggested then that Nike's answer to the question above might be 'how do I attain my personal fitness goals'? Understanding the question to which one's products are the answer, places the organization on the center stage of someone's life, and also in their aspiration for a better life, as it is the aspiration for the quality of a thing that users value most. The ultimate benefit is what one might become as a result of engaging with a product.

Questions seek the value in things; questions seek to find the core concept that gives rise to an embodied product or service that people use. The concept is the value.

Take any technology or any tool that you encounter, and look at it as the answer to a question, because everything you see is a direct answer to a question. What is the question to which a plastic bottle is the answer? How do I make hydration portable? What is the question to which a chair is the answer? How do I comfortably suspend the human body above the ground?

Every technology we encounter invites also another question aside from the question that originated it. It invites the question 'what else can this be?' and 'where else can I use this, in which other context will this thing provide me with value?'

The Internet of Things is the answer to multiple questions, one of which is 'what else can I do with data?' This question is reshaping the environments in which we live and the way we live. The typology of questions that begin with what and what else, have reshaped the world many times over in the past. What else is a defining question for the journey ahead.

The strategic business question for any corporation[1] is: 'What is the question to which your product is the answer?' To this question, a precisely defined answer is purported to show a clear understanding of the market space. The trouble with the precise answer is that it may narrow the true monetization potential of any technology. I will use an example from the appliance industry to illustrate this point. If you are in the business of electric shavers, it is not a motor-based personal appliance that you should be trying to monetize, but the revenue generating opportunity of the behavior space a motor appliance creates.

When you look at what you produce and market with the lens of behavior spaces, the revenue potential of your organization expands: you are no longer seeing your business as the manufacture of electric shavers. You are seeing it as the behavior space of male grooming; in this space, shaving is just one of the behaviors your demographic will engage in. The product —the electric shaver—is the platform that enables a specific behavior. The more behaviors

Monetization map of behavior space

Figure 6.1 Monetization map of behavior space

one brand can enable within the same space equal more monetization potential (Figure 6.1). This means shaving gels, creams, deodorants, hair products, soaps, fragrances and so on. The value of a product is a measure of its platform- ability, the number of behaviors it creates and satisfies.

So, what is the question to which your brand/organization is the answer?

  • [1] Manu, A. (2012). Behavior Space. Farnham: Gower Publishing, 29.
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