Last week we discussed the need to make fundamental, not just operational, changes in this transformative 2020 moment.
So many companies and nonprofits aren’t thinking that way, believing they can’t make big, bold changes to their business model. But while they think they’re playing it safe, in reality they aren’t. By trying to squeeze by, they are going to face the ultimate big, bold business decision: “Can I stay open, or must I shut down?”
Being persistently innovative is the best way to survive. A great example of is that of the humble Post-it Note (courtesy of consultant/author Nick Skillicorn). In 1968, 3M’s Spencer Silver was developing an ultra-strong adhesive for use in aircraft construction. Instead, a mistake led to the weak and new adhesive called acrylate co-polymer microspheres. The microspheres had the unique characteristics of being incredibly strong and sticking at a tangent to the surface, which meant the substance could be peeled away without residue and reused.
After the initial discovery, 3M leaders didn’t see value in a nonstick adhesive. Not until 1977 did the company finally test it for real-world sales. Hardly anyone bought it. Fortunately, the new products laboratory manager didn’t give up so easily and thought the product didn’t sell because it was new and people didn’t yet understand its value. (Is this your situation?)
So a year after the 1978 flop, 3M tried one more time by sending out large numbers of free samples to companies to try, then tracking how many of them ordered. Almost 90% of those given samples ordered the product, which finally showed there was demand. The rest is history.
Translated to our topic at hand: What you need in this environment is both innovation and persistence. Re-evaluate your consumer. Rethink your business model. You can’t assume old beliefs still hold and that you still know what customers need and want.
That’s a heavy lift. Here are three pieces of advice to help get you through it:
- Be sure you’re asking the right questions. Don’t be timid. A lot of times we skirt some of the big questions because it’s easier to get along and not cause a stir. Your questions need to cause a stir. This might mean scrutinizing cherished practices or no longer offering products and services that have been around for generations.
- Do the math. Don’t let sentimentality get in the way of making a decision. One lesson I’ve learned from successful organizations is the sanctity of clean and accurate data. We’ve all heard the saying “garbage in, garbage out”—you don’t want your business to be taken out with the trash.
- Be true to your values. Think about what sets you apart, your added value and what values you bring to what you do. Another way to think of it: Look at your friends. Why are they your friends? Not because they live nearby but because you share their values and have a lot in common. You’re not clones. You express your values in different, original ways that keep you engaged. Likewise, your clients come to you because they like what you provide; they like the way you do business.
There’s so much more, but customized guidance is always most useful. Contact Michael Tinati at firstname.lastname@example.org and the able staff of Kinetics MarCom for big-picture analysis of your audience or customers, prospects, and best next steps.
Let’s innovate, persist, and prosper together.