“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” ~ Albert Einstein
Ideas As Strategy…
One of the great questions facing every business today is, “How do I grow my business faster and become the next hot new thing… the hot new toy… the trendy new restaurant… the wildly popular new App… sensuous new retail experience… making your business the rising star in your industry or community?
Every leader in every organization on Earth is asking this question right now.
The answer is actually simple: Generate more NEW Ideas.
Make IDEAS your PRIME STRATEGY.
The overarching strategy of your business must be to use every ounce of capital, people, and stakeholders to not only remain vigilant but relevant in today’s Aha-driven Economy™.
Thomas Jefferson said it best, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
My dear friend Lanny Weins paraphrased it for his business, “The price of liquidity is eternal vigilance.”
I would go one step further, “The price of survival in this hyper-competitive global economy is eternal vigilance.”
And just one truly GREAT idea that can propel your business to the stars.
So, where do great ideas come from?
The answer is, EVERYWHERE!
All you and your leadership team need to do is learn to PAY ATTENTION, put your sharp glasses on, and start to SEE the ever-present opportunities that surround you each day.
As you will learn in this short article, the reason businesses fail today is that they have a fatal dose of Leadership Myopia™ — unable to avoid the blind spots of change.
Look at the recent big brand failures: Blockbuster, Toys R Us, Kodak, Radio Shack, Winn Dixie, Remington, K Mart/Sears, The Limited, American Airlines, Chrysler… even internet darlings like iHeart Media.
How is it possible that with all their cash, resources, people, and opportunities they could not SEE the sea-changes in their business and develop a strategy for continued greatness, not just survival?
They had everything they needed…
A great IDEA for CHANGE… a change that would move them from a Dog with Fleas to a Rising Star (see below!)
My writing partner, Mike Patterson and I asked this question a few months back and decided to write a short book entitled, Leadership Mypoia™, How to Avoid the Blind Spots of Change.
Mike is a gifted leadership trainer. Big corporate background, now building a new brand of leadership effectiveness. He will be the Disruptor of the leadership status quo infecting companies of every size!
Much along the lines of Theodore Levitt, Publisher of the Harvard Review, who addressed this issue decades ago in his landmark article, Marketing Myopia.
Levitt postulated that the reason big businesses fail over time is that they simply do not understand what business they are in. Railroads who just saw themselves as track-layers who ship products from point A to B failed because they had a frail grasp on the big picture: TRANSPORTATION.
Levitt’s Conclusion back in 1960 holds today: An industry is a customer-satisfying process, not a goods-producing process. Businesses will do better in the end if they concentrate on meeting customers’ needs rather than on selling products. Companies stop growing because of a failure in management, not because the market is saturated.
The Problem is Much Bigger Than Just MARKETING MYOPIA…
The real problem stems from the flow of information within an organization that permits leaders to widen their vision — to see around, through and over the blind spots of change.
In short, leaders run out of ideas and their business runs out of gas.
The big question we ask is simple, “HOW could leadership in large failed companies, with lots of resources, not SEE the dangers lurking below the surface of market change?
To use the Titanic as a metaphor, how could these captains of industry so seriously misjudge the treacherous waters in which they “float their giant boats each day?”
This graphic is far from complete, but it is a good representation of the relationship between the desire for Pinnacle Achievement vs. loss of market share… loss of money… and ultimately, the loss of all HOPE… causing Captain and crew to jump ship, leaving their customers out in the cold.
Now, the GOOD news… your customers are NEVER left out in the cold!
They always have alternatives and usually jump ship well before it crashes and sinks!
There is a truth in business, wisdom of the ages: Take care of your customers or someone else will.
Which is WHY you need to pay attention to what we are saying.
You may think your company is indispensable, but it is not. (At one time, Kodak was, now it’s not. How about Blackberry? Or even Yahoo!?)
We are a global economy operating at the speed of thought, 24x7x365.
Someone, somewhere, right now is planning to take your market share away from you by offering a better value proposition to your customers.
Remember, market share ALWAYS depends on Value and Convenience.
High cost, low value, you are dead.
High cost, inconvenient, you are dead. (Think Blockbuster vs. Netflix or Red Box.)
Low cost, max convenience, you are GOLDEN!
Such is the economy of global consumer attraction.
Back to Basics…
In the most simplistic of terms, your business is ALWAYS growing into an environment of CHAOS.
Lots of choices, investment options and things to do.
OPPORTUNITY is everywhere. CHANGE is always on the move.
Several years ago, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) divided businesses into 4 quadrants based on the longevity of the business cycle, and how well individual businesses adapt to change.
Some are Rising Stars… Some are Problem Children… Some are Cash Cows… while the remainder are Dogs with fleas! Unless you own a Flea Circus…
Clearly, the strategy must always be to use a Cash Cow to fund Rising Stars and get the Problem Child to behave! More Rising Stars, you WIN. More Dogs…
Otherwise, get out.
Which, of course, is where the constant flood of hot new ideas that make you the hot new business comes in.
If everything were static, you would not need to learn anything new, find new ways of doing things, develop new products and services, nor immerse yourself in the flow of ideas that lead to the future.
Taking a short-sighted, MYOPIC view of the future is the number ONE cause of business failure.
Leaders do not even SEE which quadrant they are in — fail to see the competitive landscape correctly — and ultimately turn a GOOD business into a real DOG!
You have heard this a thousand times and said in a thousand different ways.
Some call it the learning curve. It takes time, effort and resources to learn something new, and in the process, your productivity drops in hopes of bigger gains down the road.
In management, this is called the J-Curve.
The above graphic is clear…
We move along just fine but see the need for change.
Maybe a small change, maybe seismic.
TIME is the only constant.
What happens next is the province of a hundred books on change management: What you are doing suddenly becomes LESS efficient and effective while the new idea tries to take hold.
The HOPE from change is that the hot new idea will immediately BOOST productivity, sales, profits, cash flow, etc.
Instead, as you can see from the above illustration, this takes TIME, motivation and effort.
There is no known antidote to this condition!
There is one more element that leaders must consider as they develop strategies to move their business from Problem Child up to Rising Star: INNOVATION.
When you think about it, the opportunity is pretty simple.
You’re going down the Time Line working your plans and executing your strategies.
Change happens… change that affects the very nature of your business.
You might have a Problem Child that suddenly drops to a Dog, or more likely, a Rising Star that quickly becomes a Problem Child.
You see it’s TIME to CHANGE.
You INVEST in CHANGE.
You PRAY the CHANGE will work.
And as you see from the above J-Curve, the first thing that happens is productivity drops as you attempt to execute the change.
You are now quickly heading into the VOD.
This is the most dangerous place to be because CHANGE has a terrific cost in two parts:
- The time-money cost of resources to implement the change…
- The power to actually SELL it to stakeholders.
Which now puts you into the biggest hurdle of all: Crossing the Chasm within the Diffusion of Innovation curve.
This becomes the leader’s big problem in selling the change up and down the channel: Team, board, stakeholders and of course, your customers.
In a perfect world, you would launch your innovation and it would become a Mass Market success.
The result is that people buy into the change, and you make it across the VOD quickly.
That’s not reality.
The cost of marketing the change — the clarity of message — is hoped to be low by ever leader inflicted with Leadership Myopia.
It’s the high cost, and the reason good ideas simply go into the VOD and die a horrible, agonizing death.
You not only need to cross the VOD, you must cross the CHASM.
You can count on the Innovators and Early Adopters to get excited… but until you cross the chasm and reach the Tipping Point, whatever you have done is marginally accepted, and probably burned up lots of resources just to get to that point.
The effect is that:
- Your actual results are far less than your expected results…
- You get blindsided by this resistance and there you sit.
This further reduces your Vision and your Myopia gets worse.
Gloom turns into Doom!
Problem Children Become Dogs, and you can guess the rest.
In this case, the Leadership Myopia is two-fold:
- You didn’t correctly assess the nature of the Change…
- You didn’t correctly assess the time to cross the Chasm — assuming you even saw it.
Getting across the VOD is one thing… selling the change and getting it to stick is quite another.
A shortsighted, myopic view of either spells real trouble. We shall expand on this connection later!
More IDEAS ~ better EXECUTION.
When you FEAR the J-Curve, your business always loses.
When you EMBRACE IT, your business always WINS.
The key is to invest your time in a constant flow of “Aha Moments — from the time you wake to the time you sleep.
Put yourself in the path of discovery and you will discover.
Engage in new ideas that change your perspective and you will grow.
Today, I have two easy to adopt recommendations:
- If you PERSONALLY are growing a bit stale in your thinking, download the Time Prism for a constant flow of ideas for exceptional PERSONAL GROWTH. Click here for more information…
- Take your Business Stress Test at MyBizIQ.com for a crystal-clear assessment of what you must do differently to achieve greater business success. There you will be presented with a hundred new ideas on how to grow and turn your business int a GOLD MINE. Click Here for More Information…
Your number ONE job as a leader is to never go colorblind, become myopic, or assume your business will remain locked in any one quadrant of the BCG Matrix.
Leadership Myopia is curable with the right corrective lenses!
Your job as a leader, personally and corporately, is to SEE through the BLIND SPOTS of CHANGE.
That is what you and every member of your team is hired to do.
Move fast across the Valley of Doom, you succeed.
Remain stuck there in the Valley too long, you die. (Think Death Valley, CA where the temperature can rise above 130 degrees in the summer.)
There is a direct function of your power to EXECUTE over ever-rising EXPECTATIONS.
If your Personal Power to achieve results needs a shot in the arm, invest 20 minutes to take your TQ Test. This will give you a benchmark of your performance strengths and weaknesses. Click Here to Learn More…
The big takeaways:
- The purpose of your business is to Get and Keep customers. Why else would your business exist?
- Truth: If you do not care for your customers, someone else will.
- The key is to remain at the top of mind, produce products and services that offer value and convenience.
- This requires a constant flow of hot new ideas that will lead to hot new products and services.Ideas as Strategy is essential to market share, growth, and profitability.
- Your MISSION is to always find and fund the Rising Stars that will deliver maximum value to your customers.
- Or, as you intuitively know, someone else will.
- Leadership is key.
- Leaders with “Change Blindness” is what CAUSES good businesses to become DOGS.
- Unless you own a Flea Circus, pay close attention to the changes occurring, and the opportunities unfolding.
- Continuously SEEING through the blind spots of change is a leader’s Number One responsibility.
E. R. Haas, CEO