The Fifteen GAUGE Questions
In late 2018, I picked up a new client, the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Inside the Center for Innovation in Ministry, a new approach to pastoral care was emerging. Given their limited budget I had to work quickly and efficiently. That pushed me to do something new with GAUGE.
In twenty interviews, I asked the same fifteen questions, three for each of the five GAUGE factors. A clear signal emerged. I was able to hear exactly what my client was doing, why there were doing it, where it was working, how they kept the lights on, and what was coming next.
Open-ended interviews always work for me, but the framework made them more efficient. The conversations were fun, and they took less time. I didn't have to explain strategy to a non-business audience. It became clear that I was guiding my interviewees into their own narrative, which helped them tell me their story.
So, what does that look like. What are the fifteen questions? As I have been know to say, innovation follows principles rather than rules. There is no one set of questions. However, you can create a set to fit whatever situation you find yourself. Let's look then at the principles to follow in each of the five factors.
With the Gap, I am looking for a large existing market where my client has identified dissatisfaction with existing solutions. What problem are they addressing? Who has the problem? Why are they not happy with the other choices available to them?
For Advantage, I want to know why my client is the one best positioned to deliver the desired solution, now and well into the future. What do they have that no one else has? Can you imagine anyone copying it? How might they extend their lead?
The Unique Value Proposition delivers so much value that the customer is writing a check even when the product isn't yet available. What product does the organization offers today? What value points does it have? How is it different from competitors?
Now we establish the Gain, a model of cash flow that sustains the organization after a certain level of investment. What price can they get for the product? What work goes into delivering the product? How much investment remains to satisfy customers?
Finally, I want to understand my client's Ability to Execute. Tell me about the people involved. Who are the leaders? What have they done to this point? What are their plans for the next 12 months?
As you can see, this doesn't directly follow the logic of a business plan. What it does instead is elicit the elements of a business plan from the language of the people involved. They tell the story in their own voice. My job is to listen and make it clear.
If you do choose to try out the fifteen questions, let me know how it goes for you. I have used some variation on this approach in multiple scenarios. No two have had exactly the same questions. That's ok, because it's the answers that matter.