The First Step in Developing Your North Star Is Defining What, Exactly, You Are Selling

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

In a previously published article, I discussed the development of a startup’s North Star or the definition of your desired business outcome which includes what you are selling, why you are selling it, who are you selling it to and how you will exit. These are all starting point elements of the Business Operating Support System or BOSS, a five phase agile operations system for growth companies.

Briefly, BOSS is an agile operating system that incorporates ideas and best practiced from the most effective methodologies in business, software and manufacturing. It creates efficiencies through a structured approach with five phases that set the vision (or North Star), strategy, execution, standardization and business improvement processes needed achieve alignment on company objectives, goals and measurable results utilizing leading and lagging KPIs.

The first phase of BOSS, North Star, consist of the above mentioned steps; What, Why, Who and Exit. For now, I’m going to focus on the What.

In developing the What, or, what you are selling, the focus should be on three things, First, the description, or a clear and concise explanation of what you are selling. Second, the features, or a detailed sharing of the specific features of your product or service. Third, the benefits, which define the heart of the positive nature of your product or service.

When focusing on these three elements of the What portion of your North Star or vision, you will arrive at a clear and concise statement that encapsulates what, exactly, you are selling. You can achieve this by using a simple worksheet on which you list your offerings features and their corresponding benefits. Let’s look at an example.

Delerrok is a company that has developed a product called TouchPass, a fare collection system that can be used by transit authorities. In developing their What, they took a look at their offering and listed the features and benefits, one of which is offline fare processing which allows for real time fare processing with smart reconciliation once online again.

After examining each and every one of the offering’s features and benefits, the organization arrived at their What statement: “TouchPass, Delerrok’s Fare Collection as a Service (FCaaS) solution, provides functional, flexible, and easy to use account-based EFC (electronic fare collection) systems that transite agencies want to use.”

It’s a clear and concise description that positions the organization with respect to what they are selling. This makes it clear to both internal and external audiences so that appropriate resources can be applied allowing for the development of successive North Star steps, the Why, the Who and the Exit Strategy.

The North Star and its incorporated elements is, perhaps, the most important step in the development of the five phases of your BOSS process. The other four phases, Strategy, Execution, Standardization and Kaizen are lost in the wind without the clear starting point developed in the North Star phase.


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