More Dimensions of
Complementary Benefit Breakthroughs
Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded,
in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works;
in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,
sound speech that cannot be condemned,
that one who is an opponent may be ashamed,
having nothing evil to say of you.
— Titus 2:6-8 (NKJV)
The subject of complementary benefit breakthroughs was first raised on behalf of the 400 Year Project in the Prologue to The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution. The remainder of the book describes how nonprofit and for-profit organizations can develop and combine two complementary 2,000 percent solutions to accomplish 400 times more. The notion and value of stringing together quite a number of complementary benefit breakthroughs were first explained in Chapter 11 of Adventures of an Optimist. Lesson Eleven of 2,000 Percent Living explains more about the opportunities for such fruitful combinations of benefit breakthroughs. Over the last five years, I have also done much advanced work on the subject for members of The Billionaire Entrepreneurs’ Master Mind group that is concentrated on revenue growth, cost reductions, shrinking asset use, and expanding value.
From working with learners, it’s clear to me that the concepts behind combining complementary benefit breakthroughs aren’t yet well understood. While praying for guidance about what to include in this appendix, the Holy Spirit directed me to share some important conceptual lessons as well as to lay out guidelines for future improvements in combining complementary benefit breakthroughs.
Let me present three ground rules for combining complementary benefit breakthroughs and then explain what I mean by each rule:
1. A complementary breakthrough exponentially increases the value of at least one existing benefit well beyond the rate experienced from prior solutions while not diluting the value of any other existing benefits.
2. The rate of exponential benefit increase by adding each new breakthrough should be similar to the rate of benefit improvement experienced from prior solutions.
3. Exponential benefit enhancements can and should be sought for as yet undefined and nameless benefits.
Let’s consider the first rule: a complementary breakthrough exponentially increases the value of at least one existing benefit well beyond the rate experienced from prior solutions while not diluting the value of any other existing benefits. For thinking about how benefit breakthroughs affect one another, it is useful to first imagine several kinds of potential effects that new solutions could have on existing benefits. To illustrate what I mean about potential effects, let me give you some examples from ordinary living that do not involve exponential benefit improvements.
In each of the following examples, imagine that you are wearing clothes that make you feel a little cooler and more comfortable while standing outdoors in the sun on an extremely hot, humid day while a thunderstorm approaches:
• A solution adds one or more new benefits while diluting the value of previously obtained benefits.
You are sweating and feel listless because of the heat and humidity. If you put on a waterproof outer garment over such clothes, you will keep drier if it rains; but you will feel a lot less comfortable in terms of heat and humidity. You may actually perspire more and become wetter in that way. Wearing the waterproof garment adds a benefit in terms of protection from any rain, but it detracts from any benefits your other clothing items have provided in terms of adding comfort in spite of the heat and humidity.
• A solution adds one or more new benefits while having little or no impact on previously obtained benefits.
If you stand in the sun under a porch’s roof, you can remain be drier if it rains, and you won’t feel noticeably hotter or cooler, or more or less humid.
• A solution adds one new benefit while expanding previously obtained benefits.
If you step into a well-lit cave, you will feel a lot less hot and humid; and you won’t get wet if it rains.
• A solution adds two or more new classes of benefits while expanding previously obtained benefits.
If you visit a pleasantly air conditioned library, you will feel a lot less hot and muggy; you won’t get wet if it rains; you will have a clean, comfortable place to sit; and you can access resources that will help you to make breakthroughs.
Complementary breakthroughs fit into the latter two categories, solutions that expand previously obtained benefits while adding one or more new benefits. Obviously, the last category is usually going to be the most desirable because of gaining three new dimensions of benefits: air conditioning, seating, and resources to help you make breakthroughs.
Now, let’s consider the second rule: the rate of exponential benefit increase by adding each new breakthrough should be similar to the rate of benefit improvement experienced from prior solutions. Some benefit increases can be so small that they are hard to measure. Other benefit expansions can be exponential, but still be much less valuable than the benefits gained from earlier breakthroughs. In part, such differences can relate to the effectiveness of breakthrough solutions. In part, differences may also occur because the value to you of one benefit may be greater or lesser than the value of some other benefit.
More is better when it comes to quantities of benefits. If you are seeking a new benefit that is less valuable than the benefits you’ve already gained, you should target a correspondingly larger exponential expansion in the newly sought benefit.
After equalizing the value of benefits sought, matching the rate of prior exponential benefit increases raises the level of effectiveness gained from adding complementary solutions. I encourage readers to think of a twenty-times benefit increase as the minimum scale to consider. I do so in part because that’s the initial improvement scale that God communicated to me focus on. I also favor seeking at least twenty-times improvements as a way to avoid confusion about what scale of gains are to be sought.
You might think that the question never comes up of what benefit improvement rate to seek from making 2,000 percent solutions, but in my experience the question arises quite frequently. Many learners initially interpret a 2,000 percent solution as a metaphor for “a really big improvement.” Then, such learners might propose making a 15 percent improvement. When such a misunderstanding occurs, it may take a number of discussions before a learner appreciates that the target is to improve by at least twenty times.
Other learners may, instead, become intrigued by some minor benefit and seek to expand performance in just that dimension. For instance, rather than expanding revenues of a business by twenty times, a learner might just seek to expand the revenues from a very minor offering from the business. Yet increasing the minor offering might have only a small effect on the overall business.
Now, in some circumstances we should recognize that a learner may only have enough authority and influence to address a small area of an organization’s activities. However, wherever a learner can have a greater impact, the solution’s focus should be on the larger opportunity.
Next, let’s look at the third rule: Exponential benefit enhancements can and should be sought for as yet undefined and nameless benefits. You may be wondering what an “as yet undefined and nameless” benefit might be. Let me explain by developing an example.
Imagine that an organization is providing offerings to customers and has assembled complementary benefit breakthroughs that have already increased revenues, profits, cash flow, and the owner’s value. Many people with a traditional business education and experience would be puzzled to imagine that any other kind of benefits might be complementary.
One way to locate a new complementary benefit opportunity in such a circumstance is to consider different classes of people who are affected by the organization: its stakeholders including, but not limited to, customers, employees, employees’ families, end users, distributors, partners, suppliers, lenders, owners, neighbors, communities in which the organization operates, and those whose quality of life is affected by the organization. After looking at a list of stakeholder types, we might choose to think about what could be done to provide more benefits for a single type of stakeholder.
Since the organization has already increased revenues, profits, cash flow, and owner’s value by twenty times, the learner might choose to add one of those four types of benefits for a single class of stakeholders, such as customers. This objective seems like a fruitful approach because when customers gain such benefits, the organization is likely to see expanded benefits added to its gains from the prior breakthrough solutions.
Considering each class of stakeholders in terms of expanding the types of benefits the organization has gained for itself provides opportunities for a large number of potential complementary benefits to be identified. Most people would be satisfied with doing that much.
While engaging in such thinking, it’s important not to ignore opportunities to consider a potential benefit because you cannot immediately imagine how the result might be accomplished. Finding the solution is the point of developing 2,000 percent solutions, and tutors will be available to help others master and apply the process. The evidence to date is that if you can define a benefit, a 2,000 percent solution can be developed to provide that benefit.
Lest you think those stakeholder-focused examples present the ultimate limits of the opportunities to define new complementary benefits, let me stretch your thinking by considering the possibility of more types of stakeholders and new kinds of benefits. The kinds of benefits most people seek through breakthrough solutions are relatively temporary ones such as having more money, more free time, fewer problems, and smoother relationships with stakeholders.
Christians serve an infinite God who facilitates obtaining eternal results, such as occur when Christians share their testimonies in ways that demonstrate God’s love with nonbelievers who later gain Salvation through His Holy Spirit. If eternal benefits come from God and can be multiplied by God, then the wise breakthrough innovator will add God and unsaved people to the list of stakeholders who should receive benefits.
In addition to lost people gaining Salvation, God is interested in having born-again Christians draw closer to Him through prayer, Bible study, thought, meditation, and emulation. When Christians are sanctified through such activities to become more like Jesus, the Bible tells us that they may be earning rewards that they will enjoy in heaven. So, one other stakeholder group to consider includes born-again Christians who can obtain more benefits after they are called home to Him.
If thinking of God, nonbelievers, and born-again Christians as stakeholders for an individual or an organization is a new concept to you, realize that God’s Word describes them as being the primary stakeholders of all creation. Thinking of God, nonbelievers, and born-again Christians as stakeholders is certainly a new idea in terms of the secular literature concerning what benefits individuals and organizations should be seeking to provide to others. Clearly, the secular definitions are too limited and need to be expanded.
As you consider these other stakeholders, new dimensions of benefits will begin to occur to you, such as helping draw more attention to God. Here’s an example of a new complementary benefit. Surveys indicate that less than 5 percent of born-again Christians have read the entire Bible. Even those who have read all of the Bible probably didn’t understand important parts unless they had training in how to read the Bible and some commentaries to explain the more obscure metaphorical allusions and historical references.
Knowing those facts about readership, someone could decide to develop a benefit breakthrough for increasing by twenty times the reading of and knowledge about the most important aspects of the Bible within a given population of believers. That’s a pretty clear outcome, isn’t it?
Now, try to spell out what the benefits are from that increase. I suspect you will have trouble doing so because only God knows what the effects will be on any individual or any set of individuals from reading more parts of the Bible.
As the third rule states, it’s still valuable to work on breakthroughs that increase knowledge of and understanding of the Bible among believers despite not being able to define the benefits in advance. In the course of producing such a breakthrough outcome, some of the benefit dimensions may be able to be measured. Or, the value might simply be confirmed by the Holy Spirit in some other way.
Keeping in mind what complementary benefits are and the rules for adding more, I believe that there are three primary methods for adding more dimensions of complementary benefit breakthroughs:
1. Substitute one type of benefit for another one that is more appropriate for the context. (While for-profit companies find revenue increases to be a relevant benefit, some nonprofit organizations might find the number of beneficiaries served to be a more relevant benefit for achieving their purposes.)
2. Define and add new types of stakeholders and benefits beyond those that have been considered by you. (In the example just concluded, increasing knowledge of and understanding of the Bible could lead to defining a new type of benefit.)
3. Conceive of a totally new set of complementary related benefits. (Drawing again on the discussion just concluded, the related benefits might have in common that they draw believers closer to God. As a secular example, the elements of some overall accomplishment might be conceived of as individual benefits to increase such as the performances that need to be improved before solar power can economically replace petroleum in fueling vehicles.)
Let’s now explore how to accomplish each of the three primary methods for adding more dimensions of complementary benefit breakthroughs. In doing so, keep in mind that you can apply all the three methods to produce a single series of complementary breakthroughs. Substituting one type of benefit for another, more appropriate, one is our starting point.
Method 1: Substitute One Type of Benefit for a More Appropriate One for the Context.
Then Joseph said, “Give your livestock,
and I will give you bread for your livestock, if the money is gone.”
So they brought their livestock to Joseph,
and Joseph gave them bread in exchange
for the horses, the flocks, the cattle of the herds, and for the donkeys.
Thus he fed them with bread in exchange for all their livestock that year.
— Genesis 47:16-17 (NKJV)
Before there was money, people bartered whatever they had a surplus of and others prized to obtain whatever else they needed. Even after there was money, people sometimes ran out of money and needed to rely on barter. Such was the case during the lengthy famine in Egypt that Joseph anticipated by interpreting Pharaoh’s dream.
Most people prefer to use money to obtain whatever they need because such transactions are easier and faster. Otherwise, it can take a lot of time to determine and agree on the value of each item to be exchanged for another. You can also end up with more than you need of something so you then have to barter some of it to someone else.
Similarly, if tutors and learners need to develop on their own new types of complementary benefits to apply in each conceivable context, many opportunities will be lost to add new dimensions of complementary breakthroughs. In describing this first method for adding complementary breakthroughs, I propose benefit substitutions that can be used in some common circumstances as well as describe ways to more simply, quickly, and easily select other benefit exchanges to create complementary breakthroughs.
In Chapters 10 and 11 of Adventures of an Optimist, I spell out a series of complementary benefit improvements that might be applied to a for-profit company. Those complementary benefits are summarized here:
1. Expand organizational revenues by twenty times. (The organization becomes twenty times larger as measured by money received for offerings.)
2. Decrease the costs of an organization providing and a customer acquiring and using each offering by 96 percent. (Profits expand by 400 times.)
3. Shrink the organization’s asset use to provide each offering by 96 percent. (The organization’s cash flow increases by 8,000 times.)
4. Lower the organization’s cost of capital by 96 percent. (This reduction expands shareholder value by 160,000 times.)
5. Reward organizational stakeholders who aren’t shareholders twenty times more. (Enterprise-related benefits expand by 3,200,000 times through gaining resources, goodwill, and encouragement from the stakeholders who receive twenty times more benefits.)
6. Encourage competitors to copy and to improve on what the organization provides to stimulate successful innovation by twenty times. (Social benefits grow by 64,000,000 times.)
7. Profit from solving large social problems. (Social benefits expand by 1,280,000,000 times.)
8. Increase the productivity of underutilized people by twenty times. (Social benefits soar by 25,600,000,000 times.)
Leaders of and volunteers for nonprofit organizations often point out to me that they cannot relate to this list of for-profit organizational benefits. To make complementary benefit breakthroughs more understandable to nonprofit leaders, employees, and volunteers, I propose the following series of substitutions of nonprofit benefits to replace for-profit ones and explain a little about the reasons for each exchange:
1. Expand organizational revenues by twenty times. Instead of expanding revenues by twenty times, nonprofit organizations can think in terms of increasing by twenty times either the number of beneficiaries served or the physical quantity of goods and services provided. Choose a measurement that most accurately captures the benefits that recipients receive. For instance, a soup kitchen that serves dinners to homeless people might measure how many meals are provided. Where the benefits relate to effectiveness, measuring the numbers of beneficiaries may be a better approach. For instance, a social service agency could track how many families are counseled.
These are straightforward exchanges of benefit-defining units for currency values. For-profit revenues simply measure how many customers consume how many of each offering at various prices. Nonprofit organizations also have offerings. The primary difference from for-profit organizations is that a nonprofit organization’s offerings aren’t usually paid for by those who receive them. Instead, donors of time, money, services, and goods provide the wherewithal.
2. Decrease the costs of an organization providing and a customer acquiring and using each offering by 96 percent. Nonprofit organizations typically require funds, staffing, volunteers, facilities, and donated goods and services to provide benefits. From a productivity standpoint, nonprofit organizations can simply seek ways to serve twenty times more beneficiaries or to provide twenty times more services and goods while using no more funds, staffing, volunteers, facilities, and donated goods.
Now let’s look at “customers,” the nonprofit organization’s beneficiaries. Rather than decrease prices and costs customers incur in acquiring and using offerings by 96 percent as for-profit companies do, nonprofit organizations could measure reducing the time and financial costs of beneficiaries acquiring and using whatever goods and services are provided. Many nonprofit organizations pay little attention to such measures now. As a result, the nonprofits often impose large burdens on beneficiaries, such as long waits to receive free goods or lengthy, time-consuming trips on slow, public transportation to gain services. A food bank could measure the transportation duration, waiting time, and travel costs associated with beneficiaries obtaining groceries. A homeless shelter could do the same for those who spend time there. A literacy program could apply such measures for the benefit of learners as well, while adding the costs of any materials the learners must acquire for themselves.
These examples also involve straightforward exchanges. I suspect that many nonprofits have trouble considering such improvements due to seldom measuring their own cost effectiveness and the burdens they place on recipients. Instead, many nonprofits emphasize increasing the size of resources available to them. By seeking to do more with the same resources, it will quickly become apparent to some nonprofits that they need to become more effective in eliminating the sources of their beneficiaries’ needs. Understanding more about burdens on recipients will also lead to operational adjustments that eliminate unnecessary activities, delays, and expenses.
3. Shrink the organization’s asset use to provide each offering by 96 percent. Nonprofit organizations also have assets that they employ in serving beneficiaries, including working capital (such as cash to pay salaries and expenses, and inventory in the form of goods to distribute) and fixed assets (such as facilities and equipment). Nonprofit organizations need only measure and then reduce the amount of working capital and fixed assets that they employ to provide for each beneficiary or each benefit.
Again, this is a straightforward exchange of benefit-related units for currency measurements. Many nonprofit organizations aren’t used to thinking about the yields from their capital in terms of their beneficiary-oriented purposes. I believe that such measurements and thinking will be very valuable to the nonprofits that need to appreciate how capital intensive they are and to focus on becoming more effective in employing their assets.
4. Lower the organization’s cost of capital by 96 percent. Here is where some nonprofit leaders and volunteers may draw a blank because they immediately think in terms of corporate shareholders and lenders. Who are a nonprofit’s shareholders and lenders? By gaining tax-exempt status (and often gaining advantages in terms of competing for grants and donations), nonprofit organizations are in part representing those who provide their resources, such as donors, subsidizers through tax incentives, and volunteers. Nonprofits attract capital in the forms of donated money, goods, and volunteer services. As a result, nonprofit organizations need to reduce by 96 percent the cost of acquiring the quantity of money, goods, and volunteer services they use to provide for each beneficiary or to deliver each service or good.
This exchange is pretty easy to appreciate. In fact, many donors demand that nonprofits report what percentage of donated funds goes for costs unrelated to serving beneficiaries. Such measurements are usually considered in terms of what is a “good” ratio. I don’t know of a nonprofit organization that is continually seeking to lower its cost of acquiring resources by 96 percent relative to each beneficiary served or unit of benefits provided. As a result, breakthrough performance in improving the cost of acquiring resources will open vast new opportunities to become more effective in serving beneficiaries.
5. Reward organizational stakeholders who aren’t shareholders twenty times more. Many lawyers who are involved with nonprofits may feel acutely uncomfortable with improving benefits for any stakeholders who are not in the defined class of beneficiaries. Such a view is an overly narrow consideration of this stakeholder benefit. The legal concept of employing resources for beneficiaries certainly covers the notion of obtaining more resources and help from more people in more ways to provide benefits to the defined class of recipients. Any nonprofit organization will be more effective by providing more encouragement and satisfaction to its donors, volunteers, and employees as well as any other members of the community with whom increased cooperation is mutually beneficial.
Effectiveness in this dimension can be easily measured by looking at changes in the behavior of donors, volunteers, and employees. Do donors provide more of their own money, goods, and services? Do donors do more to recruit other donors? Do volunteers spend more hours, take on more difficult tasks, and do more canvassing that brings in still more volunteers? How much time do the new volunteers put in? Do employees upgrade their skills and performance in ways that increase the benefits that recipients gain? How much increased performance results in each dimension?
In practice, the task of defining benefit increases for and measuring results gained from nonshareholding stakeholders is very similar to what for-profit organizations do. The main difference involves which types of stakeholders are benefited. In the nonprofit case, the types of relevant stakeholder classes are usually fewer.
6. Encourage competitors to copy and to improve on what the organization provides to stimulate successful innovation by twenty times. While most nonprofit organizations regularly meet with their peers locally and with similar organizations regionally, nationally, and internationally, in such meetings relatively little focus may be placed on sharing best practices and coaching others to use them so that the other organizations can greatly increase their effectiveness. I don’t recall hearing of such a meeting of nonprofits that was focused on jointly sharing verified best practices and pooling resources to develop future generations of improved best practices. In addition, one type of nonprofit organization rarely studies the successes of another type. For instance, literacy organizations aren’t likely to study what Habitat for Humanity has done to expand low-cost housing so rapidly and effectively. As a result, many improvement opportunities are missed.
Increasing the study and sharing of improved practices and cooperative innovation work to develop them in nonprofit organizational practices are seriously underutilized opportunities available to many such organizations. It will require learning about creating 2,000 percent solutions for nonprofit leaders, employees, and volunteers who are unfamiliar with such innovation-encouraging practices to become effective in performing these tasks, but that’s one of the reasons why the 400 Year Project is planning to develop and place so many breakthrough tutors to assist nonprofit organizations.
7. Profit from solving large social problems. In many ways, the challenges in solving large social problems are identical for companies and nonprofits. However, the initial resources available to a nonprofit may differ in quantity and type from a for-profit organization. Consequently, the nonprofit may have to recruit many new volunteers, donors, and partners in order to accomplish the desired results.
Seeking gains from solving large social problems will be a valuable perspective for nonprofits that are so focused on their own operations that they mostly ignore any new and growing dimensions of the unmet needs that they are now partially serving. To reduce the unmet needs, either greatly improved approaches will be required, new forms of cooperation will have to be developed, or greater expertise will be essential. Exploring such opportunities can deliver much greater benefits to all those in need.
8. Increase the productivity of underutilized people by twenty times. Expanding this kind of productivity is often the core opportunity for nonprofits to eliminate the poverty, inadequate education, ignorance of constructive practices, and poor living conditions that can contribute to many beneficiaries needing various kinds of help. Such a productivity-improving task may seem so overwhelming that some nonprofits could feel totally at a loss for how to contribute. I suspect that associations comprised of nonprofits may have to be created to help individual nonprofit organizations play valuable roles in this activity. Such a fundamental expansion in focus is certainly warranted. I’m sure no one wants to create multigenerational dependency among large numbers of otherwise potentially able people.
There is no difference here from what for-profit organizations need to do, except possibly for the scale of what a given organization can address. The good news is that any nonprofit organization that finds ways to become highly effective in permanently enhancing human performance will find itself inundated with the resources it needs to accomplish more. That observation is certainly clear from the example of organizations such as the Grameen Bank (education in good practices and microloans to small businesspeople and farmers) and Aravind Eye Care System (inexpensively eliminating blindness) that are already performing very well in adding such benefits.
Before describing a general process for substituting one type of complementary benefit for another one from the for-profit company and nonprofit organization lists of eight breakthroughs, let me share a few words about how such substitutions should be applied to governments. Considering the first item on those two lists (grow revenues, or beneficiaries served or benefits delivered … by twenty times) of complementary benefits immediately raises the question of how big governments should be.
The answer is pretty obvious. Governments should not seek any similar overall expansion. To do so would either require conquering or annexing neighboring nations and jurisdictions to increase the number of people belonging to the governmental unit, or taxing citizens and subjects so heavily that they become, in effect, servants of the government.
Common sense also leads most people the conclusion that there are limits to the optimum size of governments. We all know how bureaucratic governments tend to be. Such enormous growth might only serve to increase the scale of problems resulting from the bureaucracy stall (see Chapter 7 of The 2,000 Percent Solution for more information about this harmful habit and how to overcome it).
If we move on, there’s good news. Each of the remaining seven classes of complementary benefits that for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations should seek to provide can easily be adapted to a government’s proper role.
Without taking any philosophical position on the question of exactly how large a government should become in terms of all activities within its jurisdiction, it’s clear that seeking such types of benefits will cause a government to shrink relative to the total activities of the people who live within its boundaries. You might think of seeking to provide complementary benefit breakthroughs as a prescription for smaller, but much more effective, government.
Let me just share a few more observations to help government officials understand how to seek the relevant breakthroughs for their activities:
• When it comes to reducing costs and asset use, there’s no significant difference for governments from what for-profit and nonprofit organizations do. Financial ratios can simply be considered in terms of the number of people who live within the governmental unit’s boundaries.
• Lowering the cost of capital should be translated into lowering taxes paid and the costs of taxpayers preparing for and paying, as well as of the government’s obtaining, tax income. This type of improvement is badly needed in the United States where complicated federal and state tax laws divert the equivalent of hundreds of billions of dollars in time, money, and effort into tax planning, reporting, and payments to professionals by those who are the most economically productive. In most years, eliminating 96 percent of such costs to plan for and report taxes owed would be more than enough to turn almost every governmental unit in the United States from being in deficit to having a surplus of operating cash.
• Expanding the value provided by governments to other stakeholders will often mean helping people who aren’t citizens or legal residents of their jurisdictions. Providing such benefits will greatly annoy many governmental officials and taxpayers. In some jurisdictions, noncitizens are primarily viewed as people to repel if they aren’t wealthy and to tax heavily if they are well endowed or earn a good living. The primary exception made by most governments has been to make tax concessions and provide funding for companies to open new facilities and add jobs in the jurisdiction, turning the newcomer into a citizen-taxpayer.
• Most elected officials are continually campaigning for another term of office, either the one they have … or a more desirable one. In many cases, officials find that changing the distribution of tax dollars can help draw more votes. Before any government is going to become much of a source of innovation, constitutional reforms are likely to be needed that reward government innovation at the expense of encouraging lengthy durations in office. After such reforms, governments in one country could then learn from their counterparts in other countries where innovations have been more frequently and more diligently sought, seeking understanding of how to create a more fertile environment for innovative government practices.
• Governments are seldom the direct source of solutions to large social problems. However, through providing incentives for others to develop such solutions, governments have played important, positive roles such as in encouraging better public health. Currently, such innovation incentives for third parties are highly concentrated in a few areas of science and medicine. It would be good to see where else similar incentives could stimulate breakthrough solutions.
• Increasing the productivity of underutilized people is something that governments have primarily influenced through providing public schools and other public educational resources such as libraries. While seeking to encourage other solutions, many governments should think in terms of carefully measuring what factors account for certain people being underutilized and how to efficiently supply what they lack. However, it may only make sense for governments initially to create environments that encourage the development of solutions by others.
• As these observations suggest, governments need a greater focus on what’s good for all the people they affect. As part of governmental reform, it may make sense to establish appointed, effective nonpartisan organizations that can continually focus on enhancing the public credibility for and effectiveness of such activities.
Let me shift to considering how to simplify the task of defining a substitute context-specific, complementary-benefit breakthrough for a breakthrough being applied either by for-profit companies, nonprofit organizations, or governments. As Peter Drucker once pointed out to me, there’s only one pattern behind all of the solutions that God directs me through His Holy Spirit to share with others. Not surprisingly, anyone can find this pattern by regularly reading the Scriptures. If Bible reading for performance-enhancement isn’t your specialty, I pray that this section will be a brief, partial substitute.
As a starting point for simplifying such breakthrough substitutions, I’ve taken each of the eight complementary breakthrough benefits from the three lists in this method and pulled out the underlying principles involved for organizations:
1. Quickly become much bigger in dimensions that matter, while incurring no additional costs to do so, to gain substantial effectiveness and efficiency benefits.
2. Eliminate all harmful costs, almost all unnecessary costs, and any inefficiencies for those who create as well as those who obtain and use any goods or service.
3. Virtually all organizational expansion should occur without adding any more fixed assets or working capital.
4. Virtually eliminate all costs of acquiring and retaining enough money to pay for fixed assets and the working capital needed to operate.
5. Expand benefits and reduce costs for related parties whose resources and effectiveness enhance the organization’s accomplishments.
6. Pass along all your organization’s knowledge and skills in advanced practices to others so that your future success and viability will depend on accelerating major innovations to stay ahead of similar organizations.
7. Apply your organization’s skills and resources to major social needs that are largely unaddressed.
8. Identify people who are intelligent, healthy, and eager to contribute, but who have limited opportunities to do so, and help build a bridge over which they can cross into high productivity in useful activities.
In applying these general principles into a totally different context, tutors and learners will need to consider the following dimensions to make the most appropriate choices:
• Who should make the change or receive the benefits of the change?
• What should the change accomplish?
• When should the change begin and be completed?
• Why will the change provide complementary benefits in conjunction with the other breakthroughs?
• Where will the change be made and where will it affect others?
• How should the change be accomplished?
• How much change should occur?
Those who are familiar with the book I coauthored entitled The Ultimate Competitive Advantage (Berrett-Koehler, 2003) will recognize this list as comprising the building blocks for defining a business model, the combined dimensions of how resources are applied by an organization to provide its offerings or benefits and to receive value for its activities. Adjusting those seven elements in advantageous ways is the key to business model innovation, the essence of developing and maintaining competitive advantage.
Let me also mention that the Billionaire Entrepreneurs’ Master Mind has done much original work in how to make such innovations on behalf of for-profit companies. Although that information has not yet been made public, I anticipate that in a future book (God willing) some of these methods will be published by the 400 Year Project to enable God’s people to expand their fruitfulness for Him in many more dimensions.
At this point, let me shift your attention to the second primary method for adding more dimensions of complementary benefit breakthroughs: defining and adding new types of stakeholders and benefits beyond those that have been considered by you.
Method 2: Define and Add New Types of Stakeholders and Benefits Beyond Those You Have Previously Considered.
“I pray, let me cross over
and see the good land beyond the Jordan,
those pleasant mountains,
— Deuteronomy 3:25 (NKJV)
Many people find it to be difficult to fill in blank spaces on their mental canvases with new types of benefits. Some people don’t even know where to start. It’s a bit like all of those stories you have heard about would-be authors who sit staring at a blank sheet of paper without being able to come up with a single word. There must be many good solutions for overcoming such a common way of being stalled. For instance, what do prolific writers do differently?
Few living authors can compare with novelist Stephen King for continually delivering long, emotionally engaging books. Even if you aren’t a fan of his horror stories, you can learn a helpful lesson about creativity from his nonfiction book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Scribner, 2000). Mr. King’s advice for starting to write a fictional story or book is simple: Put "a group of characters in some sort of predicament and then watch them try to work themselves free."
Let me translate and expand on this writing advice to turn it into helpful ways for you to create new types of complementary benefits: Start with some concrete combination of characters and a difficult situation, and then imagine where the characters might go and what they might do. In other words, Mr. King advises putting a few dots on a piece of paper and then beginning to connect those dots. Pretty soon, the outlines of shapes begin to appear that suggest where the other dots, lines, and shadings should go.
Naturally, any novel that starts with some appealing characters and a terrifically challenging circumstance is going to powerfully affect readers, drawing them into vividly experiencing the story. What’s the equivalent of that writing approach for defining new complementary benefits? I think it’s to do the opposite: Leave the beginning and start at the end by describing an awe-inspiring, earth-shaking breakthrough result and then fill in the necessary steps to reach that end.
For many years, people involved in planning organizational tasks and activities have known that if you can determine your circumstances and know what the ultimate outcome should be, it’s relatively easy to begin spelling out the steps between now and the desired outcome by systematically moving backwards from the intended result toward your current situation. Many engineering project managers, for instance, apply such an approach by beginning with the specified results that are intended to be produced.
You may be thinking that my suggestion begs the question of what new benefits to secure. You might reasonably imagine that if you already knew what the desirable end state was, the end would be equivalent to what new complementary benefits to seek.
Shift your thinking. Consider, instead, the undefined complementary benefits you are seeking as being like the steps (or dots on a blank canvas) required to make progress from where you are until you obtain the desired end state.
Some people may still find it hard to come up with a description of what they want to accomplish as the end result. Let me help.
What is a good end state? How about the Genesis 2 (NKJV) description of life in the Garden of Eden before Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruit? After all, that way of righteous living was what God intended for us to experience on Earth. Here are some of the more important characteristics of daily living for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden:
• Frequent contact and conversations with God (Genesis 2:15-24, NKJV)
• Unending life for as long as they did not eat any fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17, NKJV)
• A spouse of the opposite sex to be a companion and helper (Genesis 2:21-24, NKJV)
• Beautiful trees providing plenty of ripe fruit to eat (Genesis 2:9, NKJV)
• Living creatures for companionship (Genesis 2:19, NKJV)
• Protection from harm through God’s good plans and attention (Genesis 2:16-17, NKJV)
• Freedom from want (Genesis 2:9-10, 25, NKJV)
• No need to work beyond occasionally picking some of the plentiful fruit (Genesis 2:9, NKJV)
• A climate so mild that clothing was unnecessary for either warmth or protection from the weather (Genesis 2:25, NKJV)
• Plenty of water to drink, to bathe in, and to keep the trees and animals healthy (Genesis 2:10, NKJV)
One possible way to define a desirable end state is to identify today’s equivalents to pre-temptation life in the Garden of Eden. Here are my attempts at making such identifications, presented in the same order as in the preceding list:
• A righteous relationship with God through accepting His free gift of Salvation, continually repenting of sins and asking God for forgiveness, buttressed by plenty of daily time spent in prayer, Bible study, and taking actions directed by the Holy Spirit
• Eternal life through gaining Salvation
• A loving, devoted Christian spouse who is a great helper in all things
• A beautiful place where you can easily either grow your own food or purchase it inexpensively from friendly neighbors
• Being in the midst of wildlife you enjoy seeing
• Protection from harm through God’s good plans for your life, angels looking out for you, and the Holy Spirit directing your steps along fruitful paths
• Needs that are easily and abundantly provided
• A more than adequate income from performing a little part-time work
• A mild climate with no violent storms
• Plenty of refreshing water to drink and to invigorate plants and animals
In defining the benefits to seek for reaching such a way of living, you can select one of two conflicting methods:
1. Ask God to direct your choices and be obedient.
2. Rely on your own thinking and please yourself.
Having read about the consequences for Adam and Eve and their descendants after the pair sinned, I urge you to pick the first method and to believe in faith that He will provide what is perfect for you. If you do, realize that God may not choose to give you all those living characteristics, such as might occur if He were to send you to serve as a missionary on a beautiful South Sea island where most people are friendly Christians who like to share their testimonies. Instead, He will look deeply into your spirit, see what’s missing to make you more like Him, and probably direct you to undergo trials that will encourage you to make appropriate changes and to increase your faith. Rather than feeling like ideal living, such experiences will be much more like what wet clay might feel if it were alive while being pressured by a potter’s hands into a pot of just the ideal shape and size that is then dried in a fiery furnace.
Assuming you select the first method, what are some of the new complementary benefits that God might define for you to seek? I don’t want to presume to know what the Holy Spirit will direct for anyone, so please view these possibilities merely as examples to help you hear and follow His directions, rather than as prescriptions to specifically follow:
• Experiencing more frequent and difficult trials (The sooner such trials cause you to change your ways and to cleanse your heart and behavior, the sooner God will deliver you into whatever ideal circumstances He intends for your fruitful life.)
• If unmarried, performing more Christian volunteer service to help you meet potential spouses who are devoted to being the Lord’s hands and feet in serving the spiritually needy (You may meet many potential Godly spouses until He points out the one He has selected for you.)
• Learning how to live in greater harmony with nature (Such learning may be part of necessary preparations for living in delightful places where few “modern” comforts are available.)
• Developing your spiritual gifts (God may not be able to bring you to where His work awaits until you are properly prepared. For instance, you cannot become a qualified teacher of the Word without knowing the Bible and how to teach.)
• Reducing your requirements (Someone who loves to experience lots of entertainment may not be ready to serve in a place where there is none other than singing hymns a cappella.)
This list of possible new types of benefits may strike you as not being very beneficial because such opportunities require increased work and sacrifice, just the opposite of what the Garden of Eden originally provided. You should not be surprised to find that in a sin-filled world the pathway to living somewhat like the original style of the Garden of Eden would require pain, effort, and sacrifice. Be sure you realize that serving God is almost always going to be the opposite of what our flesh prefers, often aching to sin, to grasp any immediate rewards, to be slothful, and to be self-indulgent. Consider James 1:2-5 (NKJV):
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
To help you better understand the process I’m describing for defining new types of complementary benefits, let’s explore a different desirable end state, one appropriate for a nonprofit organization’s beneficiaries. Let’s imagine that the nonprofit’s volunteers counsel unemployed people who have just been released from jail or prison.
As the first step, let’s describe what a desirable end state might look like for the ex-convicts:
• Every beneficiary has a job that encourages gaining Salvation and making continual progress in sanctification (becoming more like Jesus), provides much personal satisfaction, presents many learning opportunities that can open doors for even better jobs, brings increasing contact with Godly people, and reduces temptation to commit crimes.
• Each beneficiary feels comfortable seeking prayers and Godly advice from the organization’s volunteer counselors.
• Beneficiaries are able to reconcile with family and friends who had become alienated from them due to their prior criminal activities and punishment.
• The former inmates are able to borrow money at reasonable interest rates to make helpful purchases such as for vehicles and homes.
• The addictions or bad habits that had previously encouraged criminal behavior are eliminated.
• Beneficiaries draw closer to the Lord and become deeply involved with His people.
• The redeemed people voluntarily serve as counselors in the nonprofit organization to help newly released ex-convicts.
• If unmarried, beneficiaries meet many potential Christian spouses during fruitful service for their churches and other ministries.
• Beneficiaries learn how to examine themselves to see how Jesus perceives them.
• Spiritual gifts are developed.
I was interested to see that a desirable state for a former criminal has several characteristics that are much like those for living in today’s approximation of the Garden of Eden. It’s a good reminder that we are all sinners. However, let’s put musings about such similarities aside and focus instead on identifying new complementary benefits.
To encourage such a desirable end state for the ex-convicts, what are some of the new complementary benefits that this kind of nonprofit organization might provide? Let’s begin with helping the unemployed person obtain the right job. Without starting with the end state in mind, many such organizations might seek to provide counsel to more unemployed ex-criminals and to expand their lists of employers who are willing to consider hiring ex-convicts. Such benefits may be well worth expanding, but such benefits are certainly not new complementary ones.
Rather than just provide advice, the organization might also seek to develop relationships with reformed former criminals who now own and operate legitimate businesses. In addition to providing jobs, such employers could also help improve the advice that the organization provides and the encouragement that the ex-convicts need. As a result, a new complementary benefit might be to locate enough such employers to annually place more former criminals who currently have minimal job skills and experience.
If such a new complementary benefit turned out to be fruitful, the organization would probably also learn about thousands of other jobs that ex-convicts could fill in the same companies after developing certain skills. From such learning, the nonprofit organization could identify a second new complementary benefit: annually training several thousand ex-convicts in the skills needed to be successful in the more attractive jobs available within the organizations owned by ex-criminals.
If both new complementary benefits are fruitful, there will soon be quite a few workplaces where lots of ex-convicts are employed. Knowing that association with former criminals can be dangerous to those seeking “to go straight,” the organization might also recruit employees at those workplaces to lead Bible studies and prayer meetings before and after work and during meal breaks. Through conducting such Christian activities, it would be easier for those in the workplace to notice who isn’t working enough to improve their relationship with God and to encourage those who are struggling for whatever reason.
If many beneficiaries in such jobs don’t participate in the Christian activities, the nonprofit organization might identify an opportunity to provide another new complementary benefit: increasing voluntary participation among those who initially avoided the Christian meetings at work. To succeed might mean making the Bible studies and prayer meetings more practical and desirable for those who are struggling to improve their lives. Such a goal might become yet another new complementary benefit to seek.
I could go on like this in developing the example through defining new complementary benefits, but I’m sure that you are getting the idea behind the thought process I’m using: While exploring how to achieve the end-state, it becomes clearer what other accomplishments are necessary or very helpful. Whenever improvements aren’t occurring fast enough through applying minimal resources, such a delay will point the way to developing another new complementary benefit. By employing so-called root-cause analysis, tutors and learners can continually locate the sources of limitations that retard the growth of desirable benefits toward the desired end state and define new complementary benefits that will create exponential expansions in obtaining such other desirable benefits.
Notice that such planning for, testing of, measurements of, and redirections of activities are much like Mr. King’s process for writing a novel. Life is difficult now for many people because they are living far below the fruitfulness that God intends for them. Wanting either to improve their circumstances or to help others to do so opens up many minds to identifying needed changes for today, tomorrow, and the next day. Then, the benefit improvers need to act in faith and stay attuned to the Holy Spirit to gain understanding about and a will to be obedient to any supernatural directions they receive.
Let me shift now to a second approach for defining new complementary benefits: Look for new types of stakeholders to consider. I offer this suggestion because considering “who” else to benefit is much easier to do than thinking about “what” new benefits to provide. After identifying a new type of stakeholder to help, it’s almost always easy to notice “what” would be helpful to accomplish for them.
You may be wondering how there could possibly be stakeholders you haven’t considered. After all, this and the other books I have helped to write about creating exponential benefit expansions are filled with long lists of who stakeholders are. You may be feeling that such lists are already more extensive than you would normally consider. Which stakeholders could possibly be missing?
Let me give you one starting point to stretch your mind: What about stakeholders who will be greatly affected by what you do but who haven’t yet been born? I’m pretty sure that you haven’t been keeping such people in mind while defining new complementary benefits. Yet the number of unborn people who may be affected by your complementary benefit expansions is probably far greater than the number of living stakeholders. How could you have overlooked such a large number of stakeholders?
Having just learned last month that I am going to be a grandfather for the first time, I think I can provide some insight into how such oversights occur. Being concerned that I obey God’s will, I felt that it was totally up to God whether I ever became a grandfather. Although I was looking forward to the possibility, I was fully prepared and comfortable with the thought of never becoming a grandfather. If that were to be the case, I intended to see such a circumstance as a sign that God wanted me to do more for orphans and children living in poverty.
As a result of waiting on the Lord to show me His plan for future generations, I wasn’t thinking about ways to create more benefits for unborn members of my family. At the same time, I believe that I was also unconsciously applying the same perspective when considering everyone else’s families. After all, Jesus may well return at any second, taking His believers up into heaven before the violent last days on Earth that precede His creation of a new heaven and a new Earth. To focus on providing lots of benefits for unborn generations also seems disrespectful to God who long ago created perfect plans for all the people He intends to live.
Since I learned about my future granddaughter, however, the Holy Spirit has made it abundantly clear that He wants me to focus on providing for unborn peoples’ needs. How can I do that in ways that aren’t sinfully trying to impose Don’s plan on God’s will? I believe that part of the answer is that by considering unborn people as stakeholders, I will notice more needs of living people that had previously escaped my attention.
Let me explain what I mean through an example. Consider that most people aren’t very concerned about the increasing quantities of harmful substances that aren’t going to quickly disappear or break down into something harmless. In many cases, there is little knowledge about what the long-term consequences are of increased exposure to such substances. Some other substances are surely harmful as well, in ways that God understands, but we don’t. What seems harmless to us may be even more dangerous than many substances we carefully avoid, such as cancer-causing chemicals, asbestos fibers, highly radioactive materials, and highly toxic poisons.
Realizing that harmful exposures over many generations could create more extreme effects, a cautious person who is concerned about unborn people would seek to not only reduce the rate by which such substances are created, but to also reduce exposure levels toward zero. In addition, a judicious person might take a similar attitude toward any substance that hasn’t yet been proven to be harmless, as best we know how to determine such things. The consequence would be a more vigilant attitude toward protecting the environment and conservation as important methods for protecting tens of billions of future stakeholders. Applying that perspective, today’s people are bound to gain unexpected benefits, especially those whose genetic makeups include great vulnerability to particular harmful substances.
Other new stakeholder types include people with unusual needs, vulnerabilities, and opportunities. Let me share another pollution example to explain the point. While Los Angeles still had a relatively small population, it became a refining center for the West Coast of the United States. As occurs around many petroleum refineries, a lot of products and waste seeped into the ground. As a result, much of the groundwater in the Los Angeles basin was contaminated. This problem meant that Los Angeles had to bring in a great deal of its drinking water from the Colorado River and northern California. Its peoples’ thirst led to huge environmental changes in the areas from which the clean water was taken. So even though the people in such remote areas weren’t neighbors, their lives were as greatly affected as though they lived next door to the pollution, except that the effects were to be drier and dustier, and to have less economic opportunity, rather than to suffer from more exposure to petroleum-based toxins.
Other new stakeholders include people you could help if you acted, and who would, by your inaction, be much worse off than what God intends and their Godly potential is. For instance, if you have the ability (and I believe that you do) to become a breakthrough tutor, but you choose not to develop that skill and apply it in the service of those who would probably not hear of making breakthroughs or learn how, you are harming such people through your choice. The effect in terms of missed Godly opportunities may be very great, especially if the person who isn’t helped is someone whom God had special plans for that required your assistance to move the plans into early implementation. Imagine, for instance, that you were intended to teach the person who was going to become the greatest tutor of how to make breakthroughs in encouraging people to seek and to gain Salvation. Your inaction might lead to millions of souls not being saved in just the current generation, let alone considering the effects on future generations.
An often-ignored stakeholder group includes those whom we know nothing about because we never bother to learn anything about them. Ignorant of their abilities and needs, we undoubtedly are missing great opportunities to become acquainted and to mutually assist one another.
In suggesting such other stakeholder groups to serve, my intent is not to condemn anyone. After all, we are only human and our perceptions and abilities are vastly less than those of our Creator. I do think that considering how much we ignore is a valuable way to help us become more appropriately humble rather than feeling pleased with ourselves.
Let’s explore a third way to add new complementary benefits: Define benefit scales that vastly exceed what most people normally consider. The 400 Year Project, 2,000 percent solutions, and exponential, complementary solutions are excellent examples of using larger benefit scales to locate new complementary benefits.
When considering such vast increases in performance while using the same quantity or even fewer resources, new types of stakeholder benefits are always discovered that would otherwise remain hidden. Here’s an example. When breakthrough tutor Dr. Burra Ramulu decided to improve the lives of poor people in his home village of Kasimpet, India, he recognized that much economic progress could occur by creating a cooperative that would employ and wisely invest for its members. The Indian government provides many helpful programs to encourage the formation of and the development of such cooperatives. But for such a cooperative to be formed and operate effectively, the members need to be respectful of one another and to live and to work peacefully together. Through learning about how to eliminate stalls and to create breakthroughs, the cooperative members changed their views about their common humanity and began to abandon long-held habits of judgment and discrimination that had divided the village. It should come as no surprise that our Lord probably had a hand in making such changes, as signified in part by the cooperative achieving one of its key objectives on Christmas.
In other instances of putting together several complementary benefit breakthroughs, it became clear that new classes of benefits would be highly desirable, ones that would not otherwise have been considered. A good example of such a desirable, substantial new benefit is assembling highly reliable sources of information about future and ideal best practices so that tens of millions more people can participate in improving the very best combinations of complementary exponential breakthroughs. Such assistance is important to accomplishing more because just one improvement in such a highly refined set of solutions can generate hundreds of billions of times more benefits.
Let me share just a few words about the perspectives provided by seeking to provide such extraordinary gains: You begin to see that it’s foolish for so much human effort to go into day-to-day competition and duplication of poor practices. Mankind was clearly intended to accomplish its greatest results on Earth by following God’s directions in the most effective, cooperative ways while being of one accord in doing His most important tasks.
One final observation is important to appreciate: World-changing perspectives can be produced by an individual who follows God’s all-powerful direction and employs His all-knowing wisdom. That lesson means that each soul is even more precious to us than we often conceive of while thinking about our own souls. It’s humbling to think how much potential has been wasted while we have tried to operate our lives in our ways rather than in His ways.
Although I warned you that it’s hard to imagine new types of complementary benefits, there are a few categories where most Christians will be able to succeed. In doing so, focusing on fruitful, but often ignored, benefit categories is our fourth source of new complementary benefits.
Let’s first consider the large category of spiritual benefits. Because the tangible world is so much easier for us to perceive, people are inclined to define benefits that are physical such as more money, serving more people with various offerings, and increasing some easily measurable outcome.
From helping people to gain Salvation, to then walk with Him, to develop spiritual gifts, and finally to become more sanctified and fruitful, there’s a whole universe of spiritual benefits that are clearly defined by the Bible. Progress in these spiritual dimensions can always be observed through the results that the person accomplishes. It’s a little like the way that we can measure a shadow on a sundial to know what time it is. Although the physical isn’t the same as the spiritual, the two are sufficiently interlinked to make it practical to measure and to seek exponential gains in spiritual benefits. Notice that spiritual benefits can be defined both in terms of changes in the life of one person as well by how many people are affected in certain ways.
Another example of fruitful, but often ignored, benefit categories can be found in important aspects of life that are rarely, if ever, thoroughly and properly measured. Let’s consider medicine. Physicians use all kinds of tests and indicators to determine what illnesses someone has and whether the treatment seems to be helping. For people who are thirty years old and apparently healthy, there are few measurements that will reliably let them know whether their health is improving or declining. Instead, physicians wait until an illness or a flaw in the person’s physiology reveals an issue and then work on what’s not functioning well. That’s a little like only tracking offshore oil wells that function improperly by filling the surrounding waters with petroleum pollution, rather than measuring offshore oil wells to know how to avoid the kind of disaster that occurred in one of British Petroleum’s Gulf of Mexico wells in 2010. To find new classes of complementary benefits simply requires developing measurements, improving them, and learning what circumstances to encourage and which to avoid.
Another rich category for new benefits relates to our old friend, the unattractiveness stall. In any area where most people are repelled by the thought of something, you can be sure that little attention has been paid to defining benefits and seeking to obtain them. Here is an example. Just realize how little attention most people pay to the vast amounts of plastic floating around in the world’s oceans. Unless you happen to be on board a ship that plows right through some of those watery garbage dumps, you don’t think about their existence, measuring what’s going on, what problems are created, and what the opportunities are for improvement.
I also encourage you to look deeply into aspects of life where psychology often leads people to make poor decisions. A good example relates to the frequent changes in style, shape, and color of tangible goods that many companies provide in hopes of encouraging people to buy more when what they already have doesn’t need replacing. How can the desires to provide and receive novelty become much more productive in terms of exponential benefits?
Rather than provide you with even more ways to identify new complementary benefit breakthroughs by adding stakeholders and benefits previously not considered by you, let me simply assure you that by being active in creating 2,000 percent solutions, teaching others to do so, and being engaged in assembling large numbers of complementary benefit breakthroughs, you will have an easy time identifying new dimensions of complementary benefit breakthroughs to add. It’s a little like the way that champion figure skaters continually add new exciting jumps to their routines: After mastering the simple jumps, the best go on to more difficult ones, and eventually to developing what no one has done before. The same will be true for you.
Let’s now move on to consider the third major method for creating more complementary benefit breakthroughs: identifying complementary accomplishments needed to achieve an entirely new kind of desirable results.
Method 3: Conceive of a Totally New Set of Related Complementary Benefits.
Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.
The beast of the field will honor Me,
The jackals and the ostriches,
Because I give waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My people, My chosen.
— Isaiah 43:18-20 (NKJV)
Having originally described complementary benefit breakthroughs mostly in terms of examples for creating more results for individual lives and organizations, I am concerned that I may have inadvertently led some people to misunderstand all that the 2,000 percent solution process can be used to accomplish. This breakthrough improvement method is equally valuable for accomplishing objective physical results, such as locating and extracting petroleum much more rapidly and inexpensively or developing new materials that will deliver certain useful, unique benefits for users, as for delivering intangible results, such as drawing people closer to the Holy Spirit and enhancing Godly joy.
Let’s look first at achieving a new physical result. During my consulting career, I have had the pleasure of working with many scientists, researchers, engineers, and biotechnologists who were seeking to make breakthroughs. In those contexts, the 2,000 percent solution process often unlocked stalled minds so they could find solutions where none were expected.
In suggesting this opportunity, I do not want to discourage anyone from using any other methodology that is fruitful for making breakthroughs in any context. In this section of the blueprint, I describe how to apply the process in terms of identifying complementary benefit breakthroughs in physical improvements, independent of making individuals and organizations more effective, something I have not written about publicly before.
Let’s assume the result that is being sought requires some new technical accomplishment that provides exponentially increased benefits at the same or lower cost than what is available now. The result might be a new medicine, medical diagnostic tool, engineered material, device, or composite structure, or the fundamental reshaping and improving of something that’s useful now.
How might someone apply the 2,000 percent solution process to create such accomplishments? I suggest that the best method is to define a new series of complementary breakthrough benefits and to develop 2,000 percent solutions for each benefit. It’s a remarkably simple approach, but one that is quite different from the mental processes involved in the methods most often employed to make such breakthroughs.
In my experience, the desired end state is seldom properly defined at the beginning of such technical work. Instead, someone may simply have an idea and begin to play with it. As such, serendipity is a major driving force, serendipity that’s directed toward an amorphous, and possibly incorrect, direction.
There are a number of important reasons for these improper or unclear definitions of what to seek. Let me list of few of the most frequent causes:
• People who work with customers, end users, and other influential and important stakeholders don’t know enough about what the stakeholders need to accurately describe those needs for the technical people.
• Interrogating such stakeholders delivers information that cannot easily be turned into accurate end-state definitions.
• People who understand the stakeholder needs cannot express them in ways that the technical people can accurately appreciate.
• Technical people have limited contact with stakeholders.
• The stakeholders cannot appreciate by how much benefits can be improved and cannot properly respond to questions about “what if” certain benefits were provided in great quantities.
• No one involved in the technical work makes an attempt to uncover unperceived stakeholder problems, needs, and desires.
• Technical work proceeds before any thought is given to how stakeholders might respond.
• The wrong stakeholders are contacted while the relevant ones are ignored.
• Technical people have a too-narrow perspective concerning the benefits to supply, not appreciating many of the most difficult needs that must be served to supply safe, reliable results.
• A committee forms that focuses on the profitability of the resulting end state and that makes inappropriate compromises about important elements solely to respond to the organization’s own criteria for proceeding.
The effects of such influences are often to focus attention on just part of the opportunity, to misconceive what the priorities should be in providing benefits, to eliminate important sources of expertise, to aim for too small improvements in benefits, and to incorrectly identify the resources needed to achieve the end state. Naturally, such problems need to be overcome before the correct complementary benefits can be identified and sought.
How might such errors be avoided? My suggestion is to involve all those who will use or be affected by whatever might be created to identify whatever their concerns and needs are, as best they understand them and as such factors can be perceived. I believe that the essential first step is to observe people in their normal lives and work using whatever is to be replaced or improved on.
During such observations, I encourage making videos of what happens so that the occurrences can be studied later in detail. During such observations, any inefficiencies users experience should be identified. Here is a list of some behavioral aspects that might be noted:
• Activities taking too long to accomplish
• Wasted materials
• Unnecessary use of effort and attention
• Awkward circumstances
• Uncomfortable physical positions
• Unpleasant interactions with other people
• Disagreeable conditions
• Risk of injury
• Repulsive consequences
After the observations have been thoroughly dissected and understood from the technical person’s perspective, those who have studied the usage characteristics should discuss their findings with those who were observed to find out their reactions to the technical observations. In this way, the technical people can learn any reasons why stakeholders might prefer to continue enduring some of these problems and inconveniences.
One of my favorite examples of such “irrational” preferences involves cake mixes. It’s perfectly possible to create a cake mix to which you need only add water or milk, stir, pour into a cake pan, and then bake. Such a product speeds preparation time, reduces the risk of not having the right ingredients available, and eliminates some messiness. A technical person seeking to provide more benefits might immediately begin seeking the best way to enable such a preparation and cooking method.
In fact, several consumer goods companies did just that. They were shocked to find that such cake mixes sold very poorly. The companies asked those who used mixes to bake cakes at home why they didn’t use such “more convenient” mixes. Many people responded by saying that they didn’t feel fulfilled in terms of doing something good for their families because the effort involved was so little. If the mix users were expected instead to add the eggs and possibly two or three other ingredients, women in particular often noted that they felt more emotionally satisfied by the experience.
Having seen the power of experiencing such “improvements” for identifying the correct benefits to develop, I believe that the essential second step for defining the right end state is to simulate it for those who will be employing the solution. Naturally, such simulations may not be literal at an early stage in technical development, but may rather be merely descriptive.
As an example of what I have in mind, let me draw a fictional example from television. Science fiction fans may remember the holodecks that were such an important part of the stories in the television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation. In those imaginary rooms, hologram projectors put up images and sounds that were so real that a person could interact with the other characters as though performing in a play with human actors. Of course, television watchers knew that they were, in fact, watching real people pretending to be holograms (aided by some special effects), but it was easy for watchers to imagine how such an activity might provide very satisfying recreation and relaxation from the stress of long years spent in deep space while being faced with many perils. Someone seeking to reduce stress for submarine crews on long undersea patrols might be interested in exploring such a set of end benefits.
Through such skillful simulations, many users of whatever new thing is being planned can experience fairly realistic interactions with what is to be provided. From such simulations, technical people can observe still other stakeholder reactions that will help to anticipate potential problems and missed opportunities.
Let me also suggest that any serious testing of concepts during simulations should be engaged in simultaneously by at least three different interpretive groups whose members have backgrounds that are quite different in knowledge and experience. Ideally, at least two of such groups should be primarily comprised of people who are not normally involved in this industry and this activity. With this approach, the chances are improved of seeing more desirable qualities to seek in the end state.
The different observation groups should then meet to consider how their experiences and learning might be combined into an improved definition of the end state. In the process, it may not be possible to reach a consensus. That’s all right. The strongest views should then be tested out with still more simulations, and the most impressive responses from stakeholders should be sought in the designated end state.
Let me provide an example of what might result from such a process. I was once involved in working on new types of food products intended to enhance health. In thinking about what to do, it was obvious that fresh foods have great advantages over processed foods due to retaining more desirable natural vitamins, minerals, unknown but desirable trace ingredients, appearance, aromas, and flavors. Historically, processing was done in part to ensure that the food didn’t spoil and harm someone. To provide “safe” food meant “killing” any naturally occurring bacteria and other biological processes. The methods for doing so were not beneficial for making foods healthier in other ways.
In the process of working on this consulting assignment, the obvious advantages of more desirable, healthier food that wouldn’t make you sick or easily spoil were clear. Some of the food technologists began to think about who else had to deal with such issues and realized that those who produce living biological ingredients for subsequent mixing had many of the same issues. Seeking out such technologies, the food scientists realized that the chemical industry was decades ahead of the food industry in dealing with these issues. By involving advanced technologists from such chemical labs, lots of important breakthrough benefits were defined that could lead to the apparently contradictory end-state qualities. Progress immediately accelerated.
As you can see, it takes a certain amount of mental and moral courage to persevere in seeking an end state that defies conventional thinking in an organization or an industry. At such moments, I believe the 2,000 percent solution process is particularly helpful due to its emphasis on seeing “perfection” as a normal state in the world, but a state that will usually be found outside the organization and industry. Learning to expect, to seek, and to adapt such perfection to one’s own circumstances becomes a way of thinking and operating that’s very encouraging.
However the right end state was defined, let’s now look at how the complementary benefits might be defined so that they can be sought. To provide a given end state, technologists can usually determine what problems must be overcome. Sticking with the health-enhancing food example, it soon became obvious that some of the ingredients were going to have to be fresh. For a food company that normally sold only dry, packaged items, that conclusion meant considering how to marry dry, packaged items with fresh ingredients. This conclusion led to three new questions:
1. What health benefits can be best delivered by fresh ingredients?
2. What health benefits can be best delivered in dry, packaged form?
3. What health benefits can best be delivered by the combination of fresh ingredients and foods in dry, packaged form?
With an understanding of these answers, technologists began to focus on desirable combinations of both types of ingredients that would provide more healthful eating than either fresh or dry, packaged ingredients alone. That perspective could be combined into one complementary breakthrough benefit for each type of new, healthier food: desirable combinations of both types of food sources that provide healthier consequences. This objective may sound crazy to you because you may not know that some natural ingredients have harmful qualities that are lessened by being processed while some “artificial” ingredients such as certain kinds of preservatives contain powerful anticancer substances.
Anyone working on such a problem would soon realize that it didn’t do any good to solve that problem if the answer for consumers was a dessert comprised of pureed cod liver oil poured onto a pile of freeze-dried strawberries. Such a combination wasn’t going to sell very well in most countries. So, it was clear that a second complementary benefit breakthrough is to identify combinations of ingredients that attract the twenty times the attention of and interest from food purchasers.
Okay. A technologist may eventually find a combination of ingredients that many people will buy because they like the concept and believe that the combination is healthier. But if they taste it, and don’t like what they taste, that problem is going to sink the project. As a result, a third complementary benefit breakthrough is to make such combinations of ingredients taste great.
We all know that if you have the world’s finest ingredients and the best chefs in a professional kitchen, you can make anything look and taste pretty good. But the number of people who can afford to pay for such luxury is quite small. Based on examining how people feel about food and their health, it becomes clear that such a product can cost more to buy and use than what it replaces, but only within a certain small percentage of premium. As a result, a fourth complementary benefit breakthrough is to deliver high quality, desirable results at an acceptable cost and price. Achieving the target may mean basic innovations in agriculture as well as in food processing, storage, and distribution.
Preparation time and effort counts too. In addition to not wanting the amount of work to be too simple, most food preparers are concerned that the effort also not be too great. So the recipes, directions, and preparation methods need to be ones that those who like the food and concept find acceptable. This characteristic becomes a fifth complementary benefit breakthrough by making preparation a great deal more enjoyable than the alternatives. Accomplishing this result might require developing new types of preparation tools and packaging.
Food purchasers aren’t used to thinking about buying foods to become healthier, rather than just avoiding unhealthy foods (such as by eating cookies prepared without trans fats so that arterial damage is reduced). A food that makes you healthier, by contrast, might be a cookie that heals arterial damage. The amount of testing required to make such a health claim is much like that needed to create a new medicine. The costs can run into hundreds of millions of dollars. How might healthy benefits be provided that people will believe in and care about, but that don’t require such testing by law? That’s another needed exponential benefit breakthrough.
I could go on to describe some of the many other benefit breakthroughs needed to achieve these purposes, but I’m sure you appreciate from your own food experiences what many of the other challenges are. In a more technical field, the same process would apply by defining necessary benefit breakthroughs needing to be combined in order to achieve a properly defined, desirable end state.
Let’s shift now into looking at the second blueprint for Help Wanted: interesting and inspiring others to make breakthroughs.
Copyright © 2011 by Donald W. Mitchell. All rights reserved.