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It was a while ago now when I wrote my post called “Elevator Pitch“.  I know it rang bells with a few of my fellow students  because the idea of the elevator pitch has come up in module forum and email exchange since.

Distracted thought process….are we yet former students or ex-students, I am not sure? Former or ex- has the built in message that you have stopped learning which seems very non-systemsy – perhaps this is like being a ‘provisional’ driver…mmm back to the point

It is raining today (no allotment  😥 and Alex busy with his French) so I found myself flicking through a recent book purchase called “Gamestorming: a playbook for innovators, rulebreakers and changemakers” (Gray et al, 2010, O’Reilly).  To my surprise I came across a ‘game’ called Elevator Pitch.

The game involves writing an elevator pitch for a new idea (product or something less tangible) using a particular sentence structure:

For (target customer), who has (customer need), (product/idea name) is a (market category) that (one key benefit).  Unlike (competition), the product (unique differentiator).

Gray, D., Brown, S. and Macunfo, J (2010) Gamestorming: a playbook for innovators, rulebreakers and changemakers, O’Reilly, Sebastapol, CA, page 167

I like the idea of boilerplate sentences.  They make you think more clearly about what you want to say – though I am sure you’d sound a bit robotic if you used the boilerplate in real life at least you have had a robust thought process.  The whole idea reminds me of the understanding you develop of the way you are thinking when you go through the rigour of developing a proper purpose Root Definition.

So I thought I would give it a go.  I return to the ‘problem’ I alluded to in Elevator Pitch – how to explain the Viable System Model to someone.

For managers, who have to understand and act to improve problems of organisation, Viable System Model is a way of thinking about organisation that focusses on creating a viable whole.  Unlike the hierarchical, command and control model, VSM addresses the tension between control and autonomy.

I know it looks short but it took a lot of iterations, leaving and coming back to.  I am sure it could be iterated some more and of course through the process my understanding will develop – but this ‘method’ has led to something that I am much happier with (as compared to my version back in November).

Better try one more…

For people, who live in a complex, dynamic world, systems practice is a way of living and practising any discipline that opens up possibilities for purposeful, ethical action.  Unlike the reductionist and linear thinking of the traditional scientific paradigm, systems practice helps you organise the way you understand, and act to improve, situations characterised by interdependencies, complexity, uncertainty, controversy and multiple perspectives.

Mmm, I think that is a game I will return to – I quite like it.  Makes you much clearer about the idea that you are selling – and I guess if needed I could derive more specific ones for different segments of the customer group – or even individuals.  The book actually explains it as a group activity where you use post-it and flip charts to generate ideas of what should go in each of the seven ‘spaces’.  I can see it could be really useful for a group or a team to work through that together.

If any one out there can offer different perspectives on my pitches – or pitches for other ‘systems products’ I’d love to hear from you.


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