How BodeTree Learned To "Ooch" Its Way Toward Transformational Change
When I look back on the many mistakes I’ve made while leading my company, BodeTree, one stands out above the rest.
In fact, it was one of the first decisions I made at the organization, and it was born out of a mix of inexperience and hubris.
You see, I went all-in on building a massive product that I thought people needed, and failed to gain sufficient market validation before spending serious money on development.
Now, fortunately, the team and I hit pretty close to the mark on our first try, but there were undoubtedly core assumptions that we had gotten wrong, which required us to go back to the drawing board on a few things.
This was a costly lesson to learn, but it was one that I managed to take to heart. Never again would I go all-in on an idea without first experimenting.
There’s a concept introduced in Chip and Dan Heath’s book "Decisive" that is referred to as “ooching.”
Now, the origin of the term is beyond me, but the concept it represents is not. Ooching is simply a process of “dipping your toe in the water” before diving in. The Heaths describe how several successful organizations developed a means of experimenting before making big decisions.
This is nothing new for those of us in the tech world, where the merits of MVP (minimum viable product) are shouted from the rooftops. What is new, of course, is the way the concept can be applied to any exploration or decision making.
Ooching into franchising
When my team and I first started to look at the world of franchising, we had to resist the urge to go all-in. After all, the concept checked all of the necessary boxes and made academic sense. However, we had learned from our past mistakes and mustered the self-control to take a more incremental approach.
We started out by simply talking to industry players, and found that the response was overwhelmingly positive. However, it’s easy to provide positive feedback when nothing is at stake. Words, I’ve found, are meaningless; action is the only thing that matters.
With that in mind, we decided to take our exploration a step further and began to offer our product for free to anyone who would accept it.
Once we did this, the nature of the feedback changed. We started to learn about what people in the franchising world wanted and needed, which was not exactly what we had developed. Fortunately, we weren’t far off and were able to quickly adjust our offering to better align with their needs.
This gave us the confidence to move forward, but it wasn’t the end of our ooching journey. In fact, it was only the beginning.
The compounding effect of the ooch
Once you start exploring a new industry, the ideas and excitement tend to compound. Like a snowball gaining mass rolling downhill, ideas that started small can soon take on a life of their own.
That’s precisely what happened with BodeTree. Once we had started taking franchising seriously from a technology perspective, more and more opportunities began to present themselves.
For as long as we’ve been in business, our company was a one-product business. Any additional features or services were introduced into our core product, which led to a somewhat bulky offering.
Ooching allowed us to change the way we develop new products. When we saw a problem facing the industry, such as the struggles franchisors face with compliance-related tasks, we built an entirely new, standalone app to offer a solution. This was, of course, a minimally viable product, but it was well received and gave us the confidence to adopt a new way of thinking.
This new mindset has extended beyond technology to include new lines of business, consulting offerings, and even a venture investment arm.
If it hadn’t been for that initial ooch and the lessons we subsequently learned, we’d be in a very different position today. In fact, it’s safe to say that we “ooched” our way to a total transformation.