Innovation Community Blog

Making sure the bright ideas work

25 May 2010
It might have started out as a bright idea in Sam Morgan’s head, but one lesson from the Trade Me story is that there’s no shortage of bright ideas. The key is to bring the idea kicking and screaming into reality quickly, and then back it up with great operations and decision-making.

To help choose the best bright ideas and implement them well, we have a set of principles. There are seven in total, but four in particular are often front and centre when ideas are being batted around the pool table at Trade Me HQ.

First, focus on the consumer. These are the people who ultimately pay your wages, so you have to do something useful and valuable for them. It sounds really basic, but many businesses seem to forget it. For Trade Me, it means providing a website that’s fast, easy to use, helpful to people, safe and reliable.

Second, decide and act on merit. Again, a pretty simple idea. There are loads of things about websites that are easy to measure, and you’d be a fool not to take advantage of this. More generally, there’s value to businesses of all sizes in collecting data to separate fact from conjecture, and help shape their decisions.

For us, there’s another equally valuable facet to this principle – smarter decisions are made on merit, not on company hierarchy. We value good arguments from people, regardless of their role.

Third, hire talented people, and give them the room and resources to grow and contribute across lots of different areas of your business. This includes not being afraid to hire people smarter than you.

The fourth principle is related to this – not only do the people inside your business have ideas to throw into the pot, there are plenty of great ideas in the heads of people who use your service or buy your products.

At Trade Me, our community of members is a vital part of our team. Not only are they our best marketing force, but they effectively extend our customer service by helping each other out with issues and questions. We pick up lots of good suggestions from them, they keep Trade Me safe by reporting misbehaviour, and they let us know when things are broken.

As people get more comfortable conversing online through forums and social networking, people will only be better informed about your actions and their collective experiences of dealing with you. Ignore the community around your business at your peril.

Jon Macdonald, is the CEO of Trade Me
Tags: John Macdonald, Trade Me
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