How to grow – Lessons from a mathematician.

Making a difference by design…

How to grow – Lessons from a mathematician.

It’s a weird time we’re finding ourselves in. Which makes me ponder, how do you grow a business at this point in time?

I know that having a Product Innovation and Technology Strategy for your business is the key critical success factor according to several product development studies. (see also my blog Success factor #1).

My ‘go to’ tool, after creating the gap chart, is mathematician Ansoff’s matrix:

Ansoff’s matrix gives four options for growth strategies:

  1. You can put an existing product in an existing market – that’s called market penetration, basically: selling more of what you already have. It’s where the sales & marketing teams come in.
  2. Or, you can put an existing product in a new market. That’s called market development. This could be a new geographical market or a new target group of people. And typically this is where the marketing team and sales teams work hard too.
  3. Or you can put a new product in an existing market. This is product development.
  4. or you can put a new product in a new market. This is called diversification.

The more the word ‘new‘ comes into the equation, the more risk there is. A new product in a new market means two unknowns. Two things you’d have to learn about. It’s the most risky strategy you can take.

Understanding this gives you options to change your strategy depending on how risk-keen or risk-averse you are.

In a time like today, where I’m not quite certain where my time and efforts are best spent, I grab a pile of sticky notes and write all my ideas to grow my business on the post-it notes. One idea per post-it. I then stick the post-it’s on Ansoff’s matrix grid.

It quickly creates an overview and puts a strategic filter over all my ideas. It helps me focus. It shows what I have and where I’m missing ideas. Which makes it easy to generate new ideas.

It helps me consider where I’m best to invest my time and my money.

Like Don Quixote said:

“It is the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow,
and not venture all his eggs in one basket.”

Of course you can reduce the risk – the better you know your markets (see blog ‘It’s Doug‘)  and your products (test first! learn about loopbacks), the less risk.

The question is: where will you spend your time and your money? Promoting existing products in existing markets can be just as time and budget intensive as learning about new markets and developing new products. Some of that work is done by different teams though (e.g. Technical PD teams play more in box 3 & 4, sales & marketing more in 1 & 2). You probably want to keep all of your teams busy.

And the time frames are different. It’s quicker to advertise and promote than to develop. But if you don’t develop (new products/markets) how will you get ahead? What will you be doing in a few years time?

I reckon right now the safest strategy is to spend some time in each quadrant. Spread your eggs.
Don’t be silly and just focus on the safest quadrant. It’s a very short-term view.

Let’s design for the better!

Onwards & upwards,

ps. Have a question? Give me a ring (021-68 49 68) or hit reply here to have chat!


About Saskia

Saskia is a new product development expert. She helps businesses to unlock their potential to consistently deliver new products faster, better, more profitable and with more fun.


Workshop. Come join me!

I’ll be in Invercargill on Friday 11th of September to deliver the Streamline NPD workshop. In person! Live!

This 1-day workshop is for you if you:

  • like to learn (or refresh) the Basics of New Product Development (NPD)
  • want to be up to speed on the latest thinking in NPD
  • would like to get a step-by-step guide of how to take an idea through development and launch in the market
  • want to know how to do that faster, better, more profitable and with more fun.

Learn more here.


PS – Whenever you’re ready, here are five ways I can help you to make a difference by design:
(1) Set up a time to talk, give me a call (021-68 49 68) or send me an email.  I’d love to have a conversation with you.
(2) Download my “Product Development Warriors’ whitepaper. Find it here!
(3) Sign up to my newsletter.
(4) Connect with me on LinkedIn, you’ll also find me regularly posting there.
(5) Forward this email to a colleague.

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