Revisiting ASPIRE for Competencies
"I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?"Dan Hedaya as "Mr. Watori”, Joe Versus the Volcano
“I know you can do the job but can you get the job?” Steve Johnson, Founder, Under10 Playbook
One of the keys in positioning is creating a unique space in the mind of buyers. Use ASPIRE to help refine your position.
What is your position in the market? Is it “we do the same thing as everybody else but we’re cheaper.” What do you offer that is uniquely yours?
Be different. Go after the blue ocean. Go where the competitors aren’t. Offer a unique product or service that your typical competitors cannot—or at least will not.
I developed a way to think about competencies—either for a company or for an individual. It’s built into the prioritization method for product ideas used in Under10 Playbook. It helps answer whether you can get the job and if you can do the job.
I call it “ASPIRE.”
Authority. Our customers would reasonably expect us to deliver this.
Systems. This leverages our existing business, technical, and delivery systems.
Passion. We will be excited about delivering and maintaining this.
Innovation. We have a unique way of solving the market problem.
Resources. We are able to deploy the resources necessary for success.
Expertise. This leverages our existing expertise.
These pinpoint specific areas of core competencies, helping you determine areas to leverage and to improve, and how your rating compares to your competitors.
Example: Consulting and coaching
Once in a while I’m contacted by someone who wants to become a agile coach or a product consultant. Yet one of the challenges in consulting is the delta between Authority and Expertise. Many have the expertise but no real reputation beyond their immediate circle of colleagues.
I use ASPIRE to help potential consultants profile the opportunity.
Authority. Does the market know of you and your skillset? If not, what promotional activities can you leverage to build your reputation?
Systems. What business, technical, and delivery systems do you have in place or will need to build? You’ll need to be able to make quotes, bill clients, and so on.
Passion. What kind of work do you like doing? It’s passion that keeps you going, particularly in difficult situations. No amount of money can make you enjoy something you hate doing. And if you hate it, you won’t do a good job.
Innovation. Do you have a model, framework, or set of tools unique to you? Are you special in some way? Perhaps is a new way of packaging. Perhaps it a tool you developed. In my case, I developed a methodology and a series of tools—the Under10 Planning Canvas, Quick Prioritization, and others—that are unavailable from any other vendor.
Resources. Do you have the financial resources to live on until you build your book of business? Leaving a job to start a business is a real leap of faith. One friend got a generous severance as part of a layoff. With a guaranteed income plus a working spouse, they determined he could go a year before he had to find a real job. He was able to increase his client work to match his old salary before the year was out.
Expertise. Obviously, you have to be able to do the work if you get it. Expertise is an area where most product managers are extremely skilled. However, many product managers only have experience in one or two scenarios; they know how it works in a few companies. To do consulting, you’ll have to become expert in many areas… so start reading. Some expectations include problems research, persona development, prioritization, story development and story mapping, launch planning, and more.
Should you start your own business? Do you have the capabilities and competencies? Use ASPIRE to find out.
So how do you use this for your company?
Download the free ebook below for a worksheet. Begin with your own assessment of your company resources and assets using ASPIRE. Then use the ASPIRE worksheet to profile a few product ideas. Obviously, the one with the most points is your best bet.
How do you use this for yourself?
Use the ASPIRE worksheet to profile your own strengths and weaknesses. (See When the Product is YOU.) For those areas with low scores, look for methods to increase them. For instance, if you feel you need more expertise in a key area, look for training and online resources. If you need to build your Authority, look to product camps and other networking venues to build and expand your reputation.
ASPIRE: A simple way to profile an opportunity.