‘An idea about a product is powerful, often more important than the product’s performance.’
At 19, I made an observation about McDonalds. I was young with time on my hands, no Internet, and simply loved Big Macs. I memorized the Big Mac rap before there was rap. I just could not understand how this little piece of whatever could have become the sensation it had become. McDonalds did not do this alone. McDonalds was just another participant in taking a cartoon version of a very popular food item, the hamburger, and transformed how people thought about it. The hamburger received a prominent place on the culinary map.
This made me wonder how this could help me create a business. My first thoughts were that McDonalds re-framed the public’s understanding of what a hamburger is by making something that resembled a burger but was obviously desirable for other reasons. McDonalds simplified the burger.
Normally, an American hamburger is a piece of ground steak served on a bun. Before fast food joints and diners along the interstate roads, a hamburger was made with ground good quality meat, seasoned and cooked to varying degrees of doneness, and served between two slices of fresh bread. It was a fantastic meal often packaged with french fries and a Coke or milkshake. The bread was often baked at the restaurant and the plate came garnished with a slice of onion, tomato, mustard, and ketchup. But the Great Depression brought about a change in the minds of people.
A smaller wafer burger was first offered in large scale by White Castle but later dwarfed by the popular nationwide McDonald’s hamburger and later the Big Mac. This burger was small but not just for kids. Whatever the reasons for the attraction regardless of diminished size, taste, quality, this downsized version has remained popular. The idea and the information behind the product is powerful, often more important than the product’s performance.
The re-framing success of the hamburger is arguably due to the way the focus is the exaggerated significance of the minimal aspects of the product. There is nothing magical about McDonalds or any other similar fastfood hamburger, fries, or milkshake. Of course, there are many other factors for the success of McDonalds and even their competitors as it relates to the burger. However, I am focused on the process of identifying minimal aspects that define a product to use for re framing and strategic marketspace interruption. I apply my own version of the Shewart / Demming PDCA improvement cycle: Simplify – Reflect – Refocus.
My interest has always been in teams, work groups, and organizations. So I considered how people themselves operate. Many people have their “go-to” people to help solve different problems, to perform work, cope, be entertained, and even brand themselves. Hopefully, you can overlook our common beliefs in friendships, romance, work, etc. In absence of structure, humans organically group as a social unit of people to meet a need or pursue collective goals. Extend the idea to people inside organizations; workers congregate socially and politically. A common point of reference is the water cooler but it can be a number of other places. I looked at people who were the “water cooler icons”, people in organizations that are magnets for others. These Intrapreneurs and Solopreneurs create networks for accomplishing tasks or provide tools for positive organizational coping.
The people who are water cooler icons, intrapreneurs and solopreneurs, represent micro-organizations. Consequently, these micro-organizations are a marketspace. These formations can use tools to explain what they do, communicate between each other, and perform work without regard to formal structures that surround them. Formal organizations create intranets and various projects designed to service “rogue” entities that are the backbone of their organizations and maintain institutional knowledge. Informal organizations marvel how volunteers raise funding, perform community work such as feeding the homeless, and help build strong communities.
While I hear a lot of offerings for small business, I have not recognized offerings that purposely address micro-businesses. I have come to the conclusion that this is an under served marketspace and an opportunity.
We have opportunities by re-framing small business into a conceptual idea of smaller leaner micro-organizations. Re-framing based on minimizing qualities of small business simplifies the marketspace of small business by segregating and scrutinizing its smaller-sized members. This section could be a niche or a significant percentage of small businesses. Regardless, we need to determine if they have unmet needs that are overlooked when they are considered among the other small business organizations. Additionally, re-focusing provides a novel perspective to a well-discussed subject of small business and therefore represents an organic hidden marketspace. In conclusion, operating in a hidden marketspace provides economic opportunities with organic barriers of entry and the possibility of being a first mover and a disruptor.
The idea behind microbusiness is already in people’s consciousness. Defining a smaller entity would be obvious except for the efforts of some who prefer to put microbusinesses in the same category as businesses with hundreds of employees and millions of dollars. Few think of organizations this size as small business.
I believe there is a great opportunity to be had by pursuing this marketspace. I will further develop these ideas in future articles by examining qualities of micro-organizations. We will discuss the “Two-Options” of micro-organizations, the Four Service Functions, Very Small Business Units (VSBUs), collectives, and more. If you understand how to apply these ideas, you can build incredible virtual organizations with True-Peer products. This idea is powerful.