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Grow and Thrive: Three Startup Learnings, Part Two

Last week I reviewed the twists and turns along our journey to create a breakthrough product (click here to read).

Startup Learning #1 - The product will be different than you thought. If you keep at it, it will be better than you ever imagined!

This week it’s Startup Learning #2 – Strive to be different and be able to communicate why different matters.

Leadership development. What can be exciting about a category that’s $366B globally and been around FOREVER! It’s all been done, right?

From the very beginning, our team realized we had a different view of leadership than those in the industry. James Kelley, Ph.D. with his background and research in consumer psychology, John Howes, Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology, and my “school of hard knocks” approach coalesced in a “there has got to be a better way” thinking. We knew it, and we felt it.

We became really excited when we realized that corporate CEOs think 90¢ of every dollar spent is wasted. But how do you break through in an established industry?

Step #1 – Define a new category

I’m not the marketing genius of the group. My grammar skills are solid and I can spell, so I’ve got that going for me. As for true marketing innovation, James is our guy. His plan; create a new product category called Leader Experience. Play to our strengths; personalized, real-time, measurable. Operate where the leader is, keep them working and add learning to their environment. Define a much higher standard than what’s currently available in the market.

Step 2 – Define a new market

Traditional leadership development is considered for the few; the high performers or new managers. Why? Because it has always been expensive. Seminars, formal training, coaching cost on average $4,000/leader/year. It just doesn’t scale. To further compound the problem no one remembers more than 10% of the training after two weeks (I’ll talk more about the “forgetting curve” next week).

We wanted to actualize affordable and accessible leadership development for all who want to grow leader behaviors, not just for selected individuals. That’s another reason we call qChange a Leader Experience solution, not leadership development. But it’s not just marketing.

Step 3 Build it into your company DNA

We believe leaders have an exponential impact on their organization, which can be positive or negative. Much like a rock thrown into a body of water, leaders create the ripples that impact the whole of the organization.

We believe that leadership is about creating authentic connections and we support that with our mission, vision and values. qChange is also the first company to have a Chief Leader Experience Officer (John is is our go to). John’s mission is to place the leader at the center of our design. He helps all of us understand and appreciate the leader’s journey in context – focusing on their needs, their challenges, and their opportunities; day by day, hour by hour, and in the moment.

qChange is driven to accelerate their growth in new assignments, new teams, and new challenges. That will be our measure of success.

Wrapping Up

Last week I reviewed our journey to design a breakthrough product; all of the varying components we needed to add to have a complete solution for the user. How do we position and communicate the differences? That’s where categories and market segmentation come in to play. And for us, it’s more than marketing; creating an exquisite leader experience is what drives us at qChange. Stay tuned as next week I’ll lay out our journey to find business value.

Rob Buckingham



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