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Book Summary. The Grid: The Master Model Behind Business Success

By: Matt Watkinson

"…A business typically has entrenched ways of working that go unexamined, simply because they have always been done that way…we often can't see problems that are immediately obvious to others." (The Grid, p.48)

The Grid, by Matt Watkinson, presents a very readable and clear framework for understanding business success. "There are three things that make for a successful business. The first is desirability. If people don't want or need what you offer, you have a fundamental problem. The second is profitability. If people love what you provide but it cost more to make than you can sell it for, you won't be around for long. The third is longevity. There's no point making a fortune today if you lose it all tomorrow…" (The Grid, p.3) The book presents a practical framework, as a 3x3 grid, for understanding your brand position and developing a longer-term business strategy.

Each of the nine boxes in the Grid represents a different strategic question your business needs to consider as it develops its market position. The nine boxes are: customer wants and needs; revenue; customer base; market rivalry; bargaining power; imitability; your offering; organisational costs; and adaptability. Matt Watkinson's website has a very useful template that can be downloaded with a series of questions to help you uncover the current state of your business in each of these areas.

When you first pick this book up, it's tempting to think of it as another template to fill in. Matt is adamant that this shouldn't be the case. As he writes, "the risk with any model is that it turns us into template zombies- more concerned with ticking boxes than with outcomes. To avoid this, you need to remember that the gird is just mental scaffolding, an instrument to help structure your thinking." (The Grid, p.43) As you dig into the model, it's clear that each box can stand alone and interact with the other boxes as you think about where your company is and how you operate.

For me, the big takeaways from this book were:

Wants and needs: It's obvious, but I liked the reminder that when you think about what someone is trying to purchase, you must think about their super objectives. What success criteria might they seek to achieve by working with you or buying a product from you? Do they gain confidence, learn a practical technique or gain new knowledge?

Rivalry: "...The merit or relative merit of your brand is not nearly as important as your position amongst the possible choices". (The Grid, p.92) In other words, you are not trying to create the best product. Instead, you should think about your position amongst your competitors and what this means about your product. People can't buy something they don't know about. If your brand doesn't come to mind when they need it, they can't buy it (The Grid, p.140).

Offerings: Consider versioning your proposition = good, better, best (The Grid, p.139). Are there different ways to offer your product that let people engage with it based on their needs? Lower the barriers to entry so that it's easy for people to engage with and access your product. Easy to engage with, easy to buy.

Peak-end rule: "We're often told how important it is to create a great first impression, but in reality, the last impression can be more important" (The Grid, p.114). The peak-end rule is an interesting idea. In essence, we need to create a positive and effective last impression.

To conclude, "reputation is like a battery. It stores power to be used in the future." In short, think about how you are building your business, but with whatever decision you take, consider your reputation and how you are developing it for your business.


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