Journal Article | Harvard Business Review Digital Articles | 78 | September 2000
Knowing a Winning Business Idea When You See One
Identifying which business ideas have real commercial potential is fraught with uncertainty, and even the most admired companies have stumbled. It's not as if they don't know what the challenges of innovation are. A new product has to offer customers exceptional utility at an attractive price, and the company must be able to deliver it at a tidy profit. But the uncertainties surrounding innovation are so great that even the most insightful managers have a hard time evaluating the commercial readiness of new business ideas.In this article, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne introduce three tools that managers can use to help strip away some of that uncertainty. The first tool, "the buyer utility map," indicates how likely it is that customers will be attracted to a new business idea. The second, "the price corridor of the mass," identifies what price will unlock the greatest number of customers. And the third tool, "the business model guide," offers a framework for figuring out whether and how a company can profitably deliver the new idea at the targeted price.Applying the tools, though, is not the end of the story. Many innovations have to overcome adoption hurdles - strong resistance from stakeholders inside and outside the company. Often overlooked in the planning process, adoption hurdles can make or break the commercial viability of even the most powerful new ideas.The authors conclude by discussing how managers can head off negative reactions from stakeholders.