Watering Holes – Where Value Propositions are Nurtured

So you have an understanding of consumer needs and what makes a good value proposition. That’s the “what.” But now…”how?” How do you go about developing and refining and good value proposition?

There’s no doubt you’ve heard of and participated in brainstorming meetings. Everyone knows (or thinks they know) what those meetings are and how they contribute to the innovation process. I think they’re actually misunderstood, and the authors of Innovation go a step further by saying that brainstorming sessions are inadequate when it comes to creating a refined value proposition.

Consider this: deep insights about markets and consumer value do not come from a large number of ideas. They come from a smart group of people thinking critically about a value proposition. They come from multi-disciplinary analysis.

In order to get at these insights, Carlson and Wilmot propose “Watering Hole” meetings. A Watering Hole meeting brings a diverse group of informed people together to critically analyze a value proposition. Preparation is required and participation a must. The team is pitched the value proposition and analysis ensues.

A great result of this, per the authors, is the compounding of ideas. I’m not sure I fully understood this concept, but to me, a compound idea is like an idea that’s been refined, built upon, and enhanced with additional insight. It’s like when two ideas come together and have an idea baby and then raise that idea baby in a nurtured environment. Brainstorms don’t produce super idea-babies; watering hole meetings do.

Another book which describes a very similar process is Creativity Inc, the story of Pixar’s founding told by one of the founders Edwin Catmull. As a Pixar movie comes into creation, the director must pitch the movie over and over to the “brain trust,” and it is through those challenging but important meetings that the ideas are built, broken-down, compounded and refined. Considering Pixar’s track record, there is probably something to this idea of “watering holes.”