I have been asked for videos that show how people are using SenseCatcher.
In this video, we do precisely that. We talk to one of our users in Brazil. The interview is a conversation between Rui and Stephane in Brazil. Stephane is the commercial director for a French company in Brazil.
Recently, the French company has gained full ownership and is focused on rolling out its new strategies - the development of new products and exploring of new market opportunities in the Americas.
We had a great conversation and it went on for over three hours. The best way to get a better picture of what was said is to watch the video first. The conversation was cyclical and explorative - difficult to follow verbatim - it had to be structured and edited.
My initial interest was to find out how Stephane has been using SenseCatcher the app, but because of my interest in Brazil and other management practices, we went off at tangents. In this post, I have focused on how Stephane is using SenseCatcher from a perspective of business growth and strategy.
Stephane shows us how he and his team have used SenseCatcher to understand the business risk of a new market and how they developed their strategy to sell a new product to the rapidly growing shrimp farming sector in Brazil.
I want to thank you Stephane for being generous with your time in talking to us today. I do appreciate you taking the time to explain the creative ways in which you are using SenseCatcher.
Hello Rui – nice to finally talk to you.
Yes, we have been using SenseCatcher for some time now, but when you asked me what exciting new things we are doing with SenseCatcher, I thought that our new venture into the shrimp industry would be interesting for your viewers. I will send you a few links to show a few visual sense maps that we have used to develop a new market entry strategy for a new product aimed at the shrimp market in Brazil.
Putting things into perspective, we all agree that a very important early step to take before entering a new market is the need to have a solid understanding of that market, especially if you intend to be there for the long term.
That is correct.
We use SenseCatcher in many ways, but more recently we have been using it to do strategic planning ...
Before we dive in, can you tell us a little bit about your role?
Our philosophy is about establishing strong relationships with our customers.
To do this, we work on building trust, and this is only possible if we know our customers and they know us. We make sure we go out of our way to help them wherever we can.
Our market research is more than simply understanding the structure and dynamics of the market. It is also about knowing the people, characters, and customers. We are about building relationships, which we need to do quickly, especially when we are faced with strong competition.
We used to outsource our market research, but that was a huge mistake.
The reports were lacking information, inaccurate, and did not provide the real stuff that we need.
Once we discovered SenseCatcher, it changed the way we work.
It is easy to use and the team is always aware of what is happening.
It has been a paradigm shift for the way we work!
Until a few months ago, it was normal for us to use local consultants to conduct our market research. However, we were finding that was not working very well for us and our needs, especially as it did not quite allow us to fully deliver on our philosophy.
In our previous way of working:
As a result of this, we needed to change our workflow. That is when we discovered that we could use SenseCatcher for this kind of work.
It helped us speed things up and get to a position where we are 100% confident in the market research that we end up with.
We realized that we could do the bulk of the market research in-house and only outsource for specific data, which we then use to complete our visual sense maps.
The benefits of working this way are huge:
So, let me show you a few examples of some of the maps.
(Watch the video to make better sense of the visual)
We started by looking at the international market – the various countries - and then we looked more specifically at Latin America and Brazil itself.
In the process, we create maps and document our findings with all the detailed records – essentially creating a rich database for each map.
SenseCatcher has a great feature that allows people to work virtually and it also has the ability for the map manager to control what level of access the participants have to the maps and data. In other words - you can give people access to see detailed and confidential documents and others only access to add and participate to the maps, or a mix. The access can change at any time. You can also track what changes people make to the maps.
I see you have quite a few documents and you have attached voice, and videos to your maps
As a matter of interest – how do you record your voice memos?
I use an app on my phone to do voice and video recordings. I find that it is very quick to take notes and make observations both with voice and video. Then, when I get back to the office, or where I have a reasonable Wi-Fi connection, I upload the mp3 and mp4 files to the maps. Like that, I can keep a detailed record of my observations, thinking, and even conversations. Working this way is excellent because it becomes available for everyone participating in the maps, and we can also track our thinking and evolution of what is unfolding over time.
We even do this when we have meetings (obviously we ask permission if there is a third party involved) – otherwise, we just make a quick voice memo. We like this because we can capture lots of fine details. We also use text, notes, and even photos. We even take photos of any sketches or scribbles people might make on scraps of paper – we load it against the write link, and it is always there when we want it. It is a very smart way to work.
Apart from ease of working and the benefits of thinking critically - what other benefits have you found using visual mapping?
One huge benefit is the fact that these maps are very easy to update and keep current.
For this reason – the maps evolve and become living documents that we constantly update. So, when there are any changes (politics, interest rates - anything), or even new people, we update the maps.
So, we use the maps in a few ways
What we are doing is not only understanding, learning, and making sense of the market, but we are also tracking and recording our thinking visually – which becomes available for others to follow and participate.
The amazing thing we have found is that the process sharpens the quality of our thinking. We also find that ‘hot spots’ and problem areas are easily spotted which allows us to tackle them immediately and not become a problem later.
the process sharpens the quality of our thinking
We also find that it is very easy to see the consequences of actions we take in one situation and see how that action might affect something else.
The maps allow us to see and manage the project holistically in real-time.
In this situation, we found that Brazil is the 3rd largest shrimp producer in Latin America, but what we discovered is that because of the new initiatives both in research, infrastructure, and government initiatives, we believe that the Brazilian market is about to experience huge growth with big potential to change from only serving the internal market to international exports.
Our research identified all the various players, regulatory bodies, the structure of the industry, environmental problems, diseases, production methods both in Brazil and abroad.
We identified the various supply chains – where the main shrimp farms are located, their distribution network.
We were also able to identify the various producers (potential clients) – we then were able to do detailed research into the main farms – their staff capacity and numbers, their company structures including their strengths and weaknesses to a limited extent.
If I may make an observation, I have found that working with SenseCatcher - everything is 'front of mind'.
Working the traditional way - things that are 'old', tend to drift and lose impact because of time and memory. Pieces of paper get lost, and facts get buried in reports. As humans, we tend to focus on the more recent things that seem to create 'noise'. The reality is that often important information gets overlooked. At the time, it might look insignificant, unimportant, or we do not understand, so we ignore the piece of information. But, with SenseCatcher - everything is exposed. We are forced to see connections and find hidden treasures - that alone is gold.
How did you then jump from having what looks like a very detailed understanding of your market, to planning your strategy? As I understand it, you also used SenseCatcher to do scenario planning and then the actual strategy.
Our next step was to do a SWOT analysis. We also use SenseCatcher to do various SWOT analyses for different areas. We like using SC for this as well because SenseCatcher creates a visual history every 5 minutes – this allows us to track our thinking and revisit any SWOT analysis at any time.
After doing a SWOT, we move onto developing our strategy.
We develop our strategic thinking using visual mapping.
We use scenario planning to arrive at our strategy. We map our various scenarios visually – including the various market forces for the various scenarios.
We typically do three main scenarios –
We find this is great because obviously, each scenario is only a plausible and potential unfolding of events of what the future might be.
And then based on the visual story of each potential scenario that might unfold, we develop a strategy to enable us to act within each of the scenarios of the potential future.
The beauty of doing visual scenario planning is that the stories are visual, they contain data (assumptions) and the wonderful thing is that we adjust these visual stories of the future as time goes by. This allows us to adjust and tweak our strategy and in turn how we respond to changes in the market. It becomes a real-time planning situation.
On the aspect of using 'story' to sell their ideas to the board of directors, that was another long conversation.
The fact remains that Stephane used it very effectively and I have summarised it in the video.
We are developing an online course that uses 'story' to solve problems (look under the tab 'Courses') and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when we launch our courses.
We are also planning to launch a course on strategic thinking and scenario planning using visual methods.