I’ve been asked quite often what exactly C-MRL is and how C-MRL can lead innovation to success. Requests have come in from customers, colleagues and social media contacts, to know exactly what it is I’m referring to.
Cirrus Market Readiness Level or C-MRL is a tool I’ve been developing and refining for over 10 years now. I designed it to manage innovation using customer engagement. Put simply, it is a sales driven, innovation management tool.
One of the fundamental issues in innovation is making the difference between “I like it” and “I’ll buy it”. Arbitrating on what can be sold and what can not be sold is the key. But as this nebulous sphere of the business process is the least understood, it usually only serves to hide the reality of things : the innovation still has some way to go before an acceptable level of value can be generated in a sustainable way.
This can have dire consequences. Because people don’t know what their selling maturity is, they don’t know how they should be managing their startup, though both are intimately linked. This feeds into a negative loop where inadequate management disrupts even further the effort to identify the proper market.
Hence I developed this approach to integrate in a more structured and revealing fashion the art of selling, with two objectives in mind :
Ensure we have progressive market buy-in (so as to avoid seeing our great invention stray away from reality)
and as an offshoot,
Provide recommendations on corresponding business practices and management, based on this market maturity
Some may argue that there are already methods that exist, but the fact of the matter is, none of them has what it takes to bring innovation to market. Without going into a detailed comparative analysis (yet), C-MRL’s novelties lie in concepts such as progressive engagement, transition, merging and position.
It has been matured for over 10 years now, applied to over 60 various cases with success. The more I use it and develop it, the better it gets. And as innovation success is my mission, I’m sharing this with you today in the hope that it will contribute to your success, and that your feedback will contribute to the success of others!
Derived from TRL (NASA Technology Readiness Level), C-MRL is designed to help optimise efforts and increase chances of success when selling innovation or technology, whether you are in a startup, an SME or a big corporation. The method was primarily designed for B to B innovations, but can be used with some adjustments and caveats to B to C markets.
The profound benefit of C-MRL is to show you that most often your offer is much less mature than you would like it to be. This encourages you to pursue your development effort until you CLEARLY bring a strong benefit to the end-user. Many see innovation as 0 or 1 : either you are in development or you have started selling. Most often than not, the switch to 1 is made too fast, with little or no engagement and testing. C-MRL strives to correct this.
The immediate benefit of C-MRL is to give you a position in the innovation process. C-MRL improves your understanding of when certain actions need to take place, such as funding, or hiring a sales force ; it gives a better understanding of when and how to use webmarketing ; it can also help understand and manage the segment « portfolio ». In fact, it can be used with virtually all aspects of running a startup.
In short, it helps you avoid accelerating in a direction where there is no market with a car that hasn’t been bolted together yet.
The following are some of C-MRL’s main concepts :
– engagement : obtaining buy-in, as it it isn’t because people like it that they’ll pay for it
– progression, with a method that ensures you don’t just turn around in circles,
– transition, from a position of marketing to a position of sales, knowing when to listen and when to push
– bridging, linking the vision and the steps to get there, but also ensuring you distinguish both and don’t get them mixed up
The way it works is relatively straightforward. MRL is a nine step process split into phases A, B and C.
First you need to locate your position within the zones of A, B or C. There are different ways of doing this. Here are two of them:
In the first one, Phase A is when you design the architecture ;
The B phase is when you work to fit into the process : it needs to fit into physical reality
The C phase is when you are fitting into the system ; this is where it fits into the political reality
Another method looks at engagement.
If you have no repeat monetary engagements, just likes, you are in the MRL A phase
If you have repeat engagements, you are in B approaching C
If your customers are coming back and your engagements are accelerating while your cost of acquisition is decreasing, you are in the C phase
In any event, please don’t consider prizes, grants, press articles or funding as reference points ; they all have diverging interests which do not coincide with that of the end-user.
Now, based on your approximate position, you then take the MRL layout and figure out what you need to do. It’s that simple!
If for instance you have signed a few contracts for a new configuration, consider yourself around 4, meaning you may want to get a repeat order for instance, before considering your solution done and investing a whole lot to accelerate.
Please remember this is a heuristic : the key to understanding C-MRL is the notion of probability. With innovation, we never know our exact where abouts, only an approximate position, though this improves as you approach the end of the MRL grid.
This is a quick definition of C-MRL and we we will come back soon with more details and how to use it. Until then don’t hesitate to leave your comments or send us a mail.
To obtain a formal one page overview of the method, just email me!
N.B. : La version française arrivera bientôt!
What is YOUR Market Readiness Level?
This is an innovative approach! Please help us improve and bring it to maturity by sharing your thoughts!