Cirrus Market Readiness Level
What is Cirrus Market Readiness Level (C-MRL)?
I’ve been asked quite often what exactly C-MRL is. 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 has been generated.
Hence I developed this approach to integrate in a more structured and revealing fashion the art of selling, so as to ensure we continuously have market buy-in and avoid seeing our great invention stray away from reality.
But this rarely happens quickly enough and between the product, the market and the sales person, the latter is the ideal scapegoat
Derived from TRL, C-MRL is designed to help optimise efforts and increase chances of success, 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 ; or a compass when sailing in the fog of chaos ;
The way it works is relatively straightforward. MRL is based on phases A, B and C, with sub-phases within them. There are nine sub-phases in all.
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 do not 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. Don’t hesitate to leave your comments!