In my previous blog,  Standing out – 4 Types of Viewpoint That Can Get You Noticed I discussed how to find 4 spots on my Viewpoint Framework that can powerfully set you apart in the market and get you noticed.     The framework looks like this:


where we labeled point A “Trendspotting”, point B “All Pain No Gain”, point C “A Better Mousetrap” and point D “A Brave New World”.  We then gave examples of each of these.  However to build a powerful Viewpoint, you need to be able to EFFECTIVELY describe the 4 axis labels on the chart.  On the Y-axis, we have “Yesterday’s Reality”  and “Today’s Reality”; and on the X-axis the usual and “Usual and Expect” vs. the “Re-imagined and Unexpected” solution.

In part 1 of this 3 part blog series, we will look using STEEP to build the Y-axis labels and the “Trendspotting” viewpoint.  In part 2 we will use KJRs AIM framework to build the the X-axis and “Better Mousetrap” viewpoint.  In part 3 we will put them together to create the “All Pain, No Gain” viewpoint and the “Brave New World” viewpoint.

Getting STEEP

Most business people are well aware of the SWOT analysis framework to assess the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of a company, product or strategy.  However far fewer have heard of STEEP (or its first cousins PEST, STEEPL, STEER, and PESTEL).   STEEP and its derivatives and excellent tools to scan an environment to understand it.  Perfect for our “Customer’s World” axis to define “Today’s Reality”. STEEP stands for Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental and Political.  To keep it simple, we will include Legal and Regulatory in the Political sphere.  (Now you see where the cousins come from!)

Most solution providers will focus on ONE of the STEEP factors when they think about their customer’s world.  Bankers think about Economics, Environmental consultants think about Environment, Technology providers about well, duh, technology.   This myopic view of the customer’s reality is self serving and self defeating.  STEEP is an excellent tool to open our eyes and find trends that we might otherwise miss.

STEEP is simple.

  • We  gather our customer experts, and even some friendly customers, and brainstorm a list of the top 3-4 issues or opportunities or  facing the customer in each of the  STEEP area.
  • We then rank order them by importance to the customer.  We define importance as the degree to which the item matters to either risk or opportunity to the overall business.
  • Once we have identified the top 10 of these items, we then rank order these factors into the top 5 that our solution can have positive impact on.   Such as E: Segment specialization P: Increased privacy regulation and T: Mobile device proliferation among customers
  • We then define the “Old Reality” as the opposite set of points so we can make statements like, E: “It used to be that Our (customer’s) industry players were 1 stop providers of broad solutions, however, there is a big move from consolidation to segment specialization” and P: “We are under ever increasing regulatory scrutiny on privacy of customer information, where we need to change from our standard of care and process oversight ” and T: “Our customers are demanding self service support and renewals on mobile devices”
  •  We then “add” these Statements together to form a Trendspotting label.  For example, Zuora added a compelling set of trends together (Economics: Advantage to buyers and seller of pay as you use models, Technology: SaaS and Cloud  Environmental: Ridesharing, etc…) and labelled them “The Subscription Economy”  They describe it at  like this:

Commerce has evolved. In the last 10 years, there’s been a dramatic shift in the way both consumers and companies want to do business. Today, people would rather subscribe to services than to buy products. It’s happening everywhere. And it will have a dramatic effect on your business

Stepping back and viewing the customer’s reality through the lens of STEEP is an exercise that can pay off in many ways, including creating a powerful Trendspotting viewpoint.

In part 2 of this series we will take “AIM” (Approach, Innovation and Mindset)  at the x-axis of the framework to help create a more compelling articulation of our “Better Mousetrap” and then in part 3, we will look at the two powerful intersection between our STEEP and AIM analyses,  “All Pain No Gain” and “A Brave New World”.


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