Cooperate With Strangers and Volunteers and Help Unemployed People Start Complementary Businesses

This article explores three sources of cost-reducing help that most businesses ignore: strangers, volunteers, and unemployed people. Think of the unifying themes for this lesson as helping to overcome the unattractiveness and tradition stalls. Let’s begin by considering what strangers can do to help your enterprise reduce costs for all stakeholders through applying zero-based analysis to providing the minimum core offering. Demogorgon Adidas Stranger Things 3 shirt

How Can Strangers Contribute to Reducing Costs for all Stakeholders by 96 Percent?

How can strangers be most helpful in identifying and making cost reductions? If you are asking yourself that question, this section of the lesson will be quite an eye-opener.

Although there are many possible ways that strangers can help you, I want to focus on just one useful quality of strangers: some of them already know how to reduce your costs and those of your stakeholders by 96 percent. All the answers you need are already present in the minds of some people whom you have never met (and who may have never heard of you or your enterprise).

Why do some strangers know the answers? They have backgrounds and experiences that are different from yours, but that are very relevant to your circumstances.

For example, extremely difficult chemistry problems are often solved by amateur physicists. Such solutions come from this unexpected source because chemists too often limit themselves to chemistry-based solutions, which are just one part of the spectrum of potential solutions. Rather than seek another type of expertise to find possible solutions, many chemists go over the same ground… again and again.

Considerable research has been undertaken concerning how strangers help find solutions to difficult problems. If you would like to read more about what has been learned, I recommend a book that provides an overview of some highly effective practices, Crowdsourcing (Crown Business, 2008) by Jeff Howe.

Let me focus on just two of the newer applications from that book for working with strangers to create exponential cost savings. The first application is to hold a contest to look for a solution to a significant problem in which all contestants are allowed to see details of the best proposed solutions to date and to suggest their own added improvements to those solutions. When this approach was used during a contest to find the fastest way for a salesman to make all of his sales calls, the ultimate solution was 1,000 times better than the best initial solution. Why? Many people can see ways to slightly adjust an overall solution to make it much better. As the posted solutions improve, more strangers become intrigued by the challenge of making useful improvements to the excellent solutions that have already been proposed.

Such experience is consistent with what I have learned about 2,000 percent solutions. Each time you repeat the 2,000 percent solution process, you can create a twenty-times-better solution to the last twenty-times-better solution. Such a repetition creates a four-hundred-times better solution. If you are looking at costs, that means reducing costs by more than 99 percent. How’s that for saving money?

You probably don’t feel as if you have the time to develop 2,000 percent solutions for reducing every aspect of your organization’s costs… and then to repeat the process. If that’s the case, you can instead “hire” strangers to do the work for you.

Typically, such stranger-directed solutions are developed through widely publicized contests that recognize and reward those who create the best solutions during a short amount of time (usually two weeks or less). Most people who enter do so in part to learn something and in part just for the fun of it… so tangible rewards don’t have to be very large. Most small businesses can afford to sponsor such a contest. It’s a good idea to spread the news of your contest as widely as you can through social networking sites relevant to the people you want to reach.

The second newer approach for working with strangers to make huge cost reductions is by encouraging amateurs to suggest solutions. Although many organizations and people are succeeding with online contests that involve professionals, it turns out that there are hundreds of times more amateurs with helpful capabilities for making cost reductions than there are relevant professionals. The most capable amateurs will usually come up with better results than the professionals do. Such an advantageous result seems to occur for two reasons:

1. Solving most difficult problems requires the fresh perspective of highly intelligent people more than a narrowly expert or experienced background.

2. Diverse sources of perspective are very valuable (as I noted in describing the other new method, letting people see and improve on each others’ solutions during a contest).

From the early 1970s, many organizations have found the best innovations by involving large numbers of people who were from seemingly unrelated backgrounds and who were also strangers to the organization and its offerings. I also suspect that another reason such amateur strangers do well is that they aren’t limited by professional blinders that eliminate considering most alternatives.

One of the benefits of working with amateurs who are strangers is that the recognition and rewards they want to receive can be quite modest. Amusing t-shirts are often considered by amateurs to be enough reward.

To find out how well this method can work for you, take your highest cost area, write a description of how you do things now and how your process affects other stakeholders, and underwrite a contest to find a more effective, more desirable, lower-cost method. Once you’ve had your first success with this kind of contest, you’ll be ready for more!

What’s the key cost-reducing point about working with strangers? You can use zero-based analysis to create 2,000 percent cost-reduction solutions by cooperating with strangers to provide the minimum core offering in ways that will almost instantly expand your profits after implementation by reducing your and your stakeholders’ costs by more than 96 percent or increasing social benefits by more than twenty times what you will be spending.