Corporate Innovation: Forecasting Product Demand and Changing Course | 12/08/2010
Executive Summary: Producing excellent products and offering exceptional service to please existing clients is essential, however, it does not guarantee the success of any organization. In the midst of turbulence, it is just as important to monitor the trends that impact your industry and organization. Often, executive teams are so busy "putting out fires" that they fail to notice a shift in demand for their products and services. By the time, a trend is spotted, the brand may be irreparably damaged or the competition may have been proactive enough to grab significant market share. Here are some cases that demonstrate how to avoid this.
Corporate Innovation: Forecasting Changes in Client Demand & Changing Course
by Anne Thornley-Brown M.B.A. President
Executive Oasis International
Anne founded and manages the International Business Team Building Alliance for Executives on Linkedin. All executives from medium to large companies are welcome to join the more than 140 executive members from over 30 countries.
To increase your organization's chances for success, it is not enough to ensure that your company produces excellent products and that existing clients love your brand. There are a myriad of other factors that can have an impact on whether your company thrives or dies. The key is to connect the dots. Connecting the dots is not rocket science. It's a combination of art and science. It involves identifying and tracking the factors that have an impact on corporate performance so that you can spot emerging trends, chart your course, and stay ahead of the curve. Unfortunately, many executive teams are busy putting out fires or focusing on what is happening in their own industry. To spot threats and seize emerging opportunities, it is important to keep abreast of:
- economic and societal trends that have an impact on client demand for your products and services
- emerging techonology
- market trends
- strategies for client engagement
Today, we will focus on identifying and responding to changing client demand patterns for your products or services. If this article resonates with you, please add your comments. If you can think of examples of companies that seized opportunities as a result of being in tune to shift in product or service demand patterns, please share them
If you enjoy this exploration, please let me know. Add your comments, click the star to select this blog entry as a favourite, Stumbleupon it, and re-tweet it. That way I'll make a point of issuing The Tough Guide to Corporate Survival for Executives more often.
Marketing Innovation: Managing Straegic Transitions in Response to Client Demand Pattern Shifts
Often companies get so focused on providing excellent products and exceptional client service to their traditional customer base that they miss emerging trends that have an impact on the demand for their products. Fortunately, there are a number of examples of companies that successfully managed strategic transitions and emerged stronger.
Company: (Canada Cycle & Motor Co. Ltd.) Industry: Bicycle Manufacturers
Founded in 1899 in Weston, Ontario, CCM® (Canada Cycle & Motor Co. Ltd.) went on to become the leading bicycle manufacturing company in Canada, representing an 85% market share. By 1905, when the automobile was emerging, bicycle sales started to decline. The company identified and seized an emerging market opportunity that was the result of the increasing popularity of ice hockey. It diversified and started to manufacture the CCM Automobile Skate In 1922. The Tackaberry hockey boot with CCM Prolite blade beacme the most well known skate in hoceky history. The company launched very efffective marketing campaigns using hockey legends. Within 30 years, it dominated the ice hockey skate market with a 90% market share. CCM® invented the tricycle. In 1983, Procycle Group Inc. bought CCM® Cycle. CCM is now a manufacturer of hockey gear and equipment including skates, pads, hockey sticks, protective gear, and helmets. The company's emphasis on quality and product innovation has allowed it to dominate the market.
It is the exclusive licensee of NHL and CHL. It continues to use famous hockey players in its marketing campaigns.
Due to the leadership of true visexecutaries, the company has been able to make a key strategic transition in response to changes in demand patterns for its original product line.
CCM Hockey History @ccmhockey
Procycle Group and other Canadian bicycle manufacturers face significant challenges from Asian competitors.
We firmly believe that the decrease in the number of employees at Procycle Inc. is the result of the insufficient protective measures implemented over the past decade, as well as the major influx of bicycles and bicycle frames into Canada, especially from Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, India, Vietnam or Malaysia, at prices that are too low. We are convinced that if we do not adopt global safeguard measures with respect to the importation of bicycles, assembled or unassembled, with a wheel diameter greater than 38.1 centimetres, and additional safeguard measures targeting painted and finished bicycle frames, assembled or unassembled, these products will be imported in such increased quantities and under such conditions as to be a principal cause of serious injury to domestic producers of similar and directly competitive goods, in particular Procycle Inc. and our members who work there.
Source: Protecting the Canadian Bicycle-Manufacturing Industry
In response to these challenges, it is focusing on the high performance bicycle niche under the brand names Rocky Mountain, Miele Bicycles and Pro.Cycle. It also owns and markets a range of cardio equipment including treadmills, step machines, stationary bikes, and ellipticals.
Forecasting Product Demand: Learning From the Past
At the turn of the 20th century, a company could have been the best manufacturer of saddles, riding boots and tack for horses but little could have prevented it's demise once the automobile became popular. The most viable survival strategies would have been to find a way to transition the technology and put it to new use or upgrade to serve the luxury niche market (e.g. equestrian sports). While most saddle and makers are a distant memory, others have made a very profitable transition.
A Company to Watch: Page Belting Company
Founded in 1868, Page Belting was an American manufacturer of flat leather harnesses for horses, buggies, stagecoaches, and industrial machinary. Page Belting was highly successful. They even have a testimonial letter from Buffalo Bill attesting to their excellence. The popularity of the automobie and the growth of electricity to power industrial equipment could have resulted in the demise of the company, Page Belting revitalized its original produced line and built on it to create new products and advanced materials. It diversified from a company specializing in leather belting and now offers a range of products including flat, round and link belts, leather specialties, washers, gaskets, conveyor belts and transmission, and hydraulics. In the 1950s, Page added synthetic material, polyurethane, to its offerings. The company also transformed its corporate culture.
"We knew we couldn't keep doing what we had been doing for decades. We needed to create new strategies, such as changing our attitudes toward our employees and consciously deciding to change our overall style of managing."
"We turned the corner on a prevailing defeatist attitude throughout our
workforce in less than a year. I truly expected it to take a lot
Mark Coen, President
Page Belting Company, Concord, NH
More about the History of Page Belting Company
A Company to Watch: Hermès Paris originally Hermès Saddlery Company
Hermès Paris, a company from France that started in the same industry as Page Belting, has used a different corporate survival strategy. Founded in 1837, Hermès Saddlery specialized in the manufacture of saddles and halters. The Hermès trademark handbags evolved from the bag that Charles-Emile Hermès, the son of the founder, designed so that riders could carry their saddles.
Their current product mix is a blend of their traditional product line and the luxury good from scarves to perfume to high fashion for which the company is now more commonly known. They continue to manufacturer and market saddles, riding boots and gloves for the niche international showjumping market. It also played a key role in the development of Pessoa Saddles that have been used by 2 generations of show jumping legends in Brazil's Pessoa family.
Forecasting Product Demand: Spotting the Future....Being Proactive
The clues to future corporate performance are all around us. Many executives are too busy focusing on the present to be visionary. That is why, during the last recession (2003 - 2004), my company designed Visexecutaries: Seizing Opportunities in Our Shifting Corporate Landscape. We have offered it in Asia, the Middle East and North America to encourage corporate leadership teams to become Visexecutaries - "visionary executives" who spot emerging trends, change their course and proactively seize market opportunities. Connecting the Dots is one of the many exercises from that session. Here is how it works.
Connecting the Dots: An Exercise
Banks have daily position reports to make decisions about commercial
accounts. After he took office, one of the first things President Obama
did was to ask for a daily report of key economic and financial
- Create a graph.
- Use the x-axis for years.
- Use the y-axis for level of profitability.
- Chart your company's performance for the last 10 years. Place a dot above each year to represent the level of corporate performance.
- Beside each dot, write the cause of the improvement or decline in corporate performance
- Connect the dots.
- Examine the factors that had an impact on corporate performance.
Presto! You've just identified a customized set of leading economic indicators for your organization. Monitor them on a daily, weekly or quarterly basis as appropriate. Spot the trends and use mind maps and other brainstorming tools to generate proactive strategies for managing emerging trends.
Corporate survival and corporate success are about spotting the trends that have a impact on your business early enough to do something about it. Re-inventing yourself and your organization in response to our shifting corporate landscape is particularly important in the midst of turbulence. Successful companies know how to change their course and seize emerging opportunities to compensate for shifts or a decline in their traditional customer base.
Take time to watch the videos and the websites of each of the companies that have been profiled. Try the Connecting the Dots exercise. The results will help you identify and stay on top of trends that are important to your business. They will also help you be more proactive in navigating the ups and downs of a turbulent economy and marketplace.
Photo Credit: circulating
Photo Credit: Qiao-Da-Ye
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Executive Corporate Meeting Re-Engineering Guide | 09/29/2010
Executive Summary: Based on the way in which many companies continue to design corporate meetings and sales rallies, you'd never know that there is a growing volume of research about the best strategies to engage business audience. The order of the day continues to be a dreary and tedious pattern of passive disengagement with a series of long, boring presentations delivered by "talking heads". There is a better way. From strategic meetings management to virtual worlds technology, executives can eliminate meetings that are not required, streamline meeting content and deliver it with more impact.
Repairing A Broken Business Meeting Model
by Anne Thornley-Brown M.B.A. President
Executive Oasis International
Anne founded and manages the International Business Team Building Alliance for Executives on Linkedin. All executives from medium to large companies are welcome to join the more than 140 executive members from over 30 countries.
Troubleshooting Corporate Meetings Before They Start
When a meeting is poorly designed, participants have a hard enough time staying awake yet alone deriving benefit from the content that is presented. So, how can we fix a corporate meeting model that is badly in need of repair? My advice is that it's time to re-engineer meetings and sales rallies. Before we tackle strategies for doing that, let's get to the root of the problem.
7 Signs That Your Corporate Meeting Design is in Need of Renovation
- Every time you get your team together, as the planning cycle continues, you have more and more content to cover.
- You end up with a jam packed agenda that's bursting at the seams with content.
- The set-up for your meetings resembles the opening photo.
- Your meetings are composed of wall to wall presentations that require participants to sit passively and listen.
- Your breakout sessions are also exercises in passive disengagement.
- You're always running behind schedule.
- The group is rowdy and difficult to engage during entertainment or recreational activities.
It's a symptom of a deeper problem.
A Corporate Meeting Model That Works
I have previously blogged about:
This model is based on a start time just after an early lunch (12:30) on Day 1. I recommended a minimum of 2 days plus a 3 hour orientation session to include:
- facilitated team building
- recreational team challenges
- business application exercises
- a half day business meeting with your own agenda items
It's a scaleable design that works for on-site meetings and off-site retreats. For off-sites, companies that require more meeting time to cover their own agenda items can easily add half a day without having to extend their hotel stay by another night.
The State of Corporate Meetings
Our team building firm regularly gets inquiries from companies that initially request a full day of interactive team building. This is doable with a very short simulation and very specific outcomes but it's a very tight timeframe. Often, the requested time slot is reduced to 1/2 a day and, ultimately, it shrinks to a 1 to 2 hour strictly recreational activity or after dinner entertainment. This business is, invariably, awarded to the lowest cost provider. By the time the participants get to dinner, they are exhausted and in bad humor. We have seen instances in which the participant attention span has been stretched to the limited and they have short attention spands even during the entertainment.
The actual meeting ends up consisting of a series of dry presentations (i.e. back to back information dumps). I just had a chance to skim The Presenters' Jiffy Guide to Effective Knowledge Transfer. Dave Meier of the Centre for Accelerated Learning was kind enough to send me a copy of his new book. He captured it perfectly when he said that many companies still design meetings based on the following paradigm:
Incorrect Assumption: The more information we can stuff into people in the shortest time, the more knowledge they will have.
This pattern has been emerging in Toronto for some time now. We notice that it is also starting to happen with prospective clients in other parts of the world. Colleagues in the USA have confirmed that they are seeing a similar pattern. Why is this happening? Companies have indicated that they have WAY too much content to cover. The result? Team building gets the axe and they resort to information dumps.
Reality Check: A cocktail reception and after dinner entertainment will not fix a bad meeting design.
Pinpointing Root Causes of Problem Meetings
Here are some possible causes of the swelling meeting agenda:
Here are some examples of virtual platforms that can be used to deliver content before or during meetings and sales rallies. Interfaces can be animated, true to life or a combination.
- There are serious communication stopgaps and bottlenecks preventing team members from getting the information they need.
An information dump once or twice a year is not going to fix that. You need a cross-functional team to diagnose what is blocking the information flow and propose solutions. Tools like flow charts can be of great assistance
- You're meeting too infrequently and content is piling up.
You need to meet more frequently or arrange for virtual meetings in between your face-to-face sessions so that each agenda is not packed with content.
- Your processes are just too complex.
Torturing employees and forcing them to sit passively through long presentations isn't going to fix that. It's time to troubleshoot and streamline your processes.
- You're using the wrong medium.
All information does not have to be delivered face-to-face. Virtual meetings, blogs, independent study modules, intranets, interactive content, and pre-recorded material accessible in Second Life may be more appropriate than a face to face meeting. If there is a need to deliver content that requires interaction between meeting participants, why bring them together?
Virtual Trade Show
Cisco Systems Pioneers Virtual Sales Meeting
The Bottom Line Work on improving communication and processes. Use another platform to deliver some content ahead of time and trim your meeting agenda. Carve out more time for interactive content, team building, think tanks, brainstorming, and networking.
Strategic Meetings Management
Sometimes the root of the problem is that companies are investing too much time and money in meetings that are not really necessary. The result is that there is not enough time or budget for meetings that are pivotal.
- Consider a Strategic Meetings Management Programme
This will help you get a handle on what your company is investing in meetings, set a meeting management policy, eliminate meetings that are not necessary, and allocate more time and budget to key face-to-face meetings.
(c) NBTAStrategic Meetings Management Model
Strategic Meetings Management Videos
Measuring Value and R.O.I.
Putting Your Corporate Meeting Budget on a Diet
Is budget is still a concern? Here are some strategies to trim your budget to free up resources to invest in an extra day at the hotel, professional facilitators, or consulting by a professional meeting planner to help you improve your meeting.
- Free up more budget by opting for double occupancy rooms.
Let's face it, people won't be spending a lot of time in their rooms.
- Arrange for local participants to stay at the hotel for only 1 night, the night of your social or gala.
- Book suites with living rooms so that each employee has a private bedroom at a fraction of the cost of single occupancy rooms.
- Plan your meeting with more lead time so that you can take advantage of cheaper airfare.
- Book your meeting for a time that is slightly off-season.
If you stay in Niagara-on-the-Lake in July, it will be expensive. Opt for early November or April and the weather will still be comfortable and you'll save a lot of money. The same applies to mountain locations in Japan or Malaysia or Jamaica in May or September
- Stay near where you intent to play to cut down on travel costs.
- If you have to fly your team in from around the globe, select a more affordable location.
Downtown Toronto will be expensive but move just north of Toronto to York Region and you'll be able to stretch your budget and still access everything that toronto has to offer. Malaysia (try Langkawi, Tioman Island, Cameron Highlands, Berjaya Hills), Thaliand, Canada (Halifax, Cape Breton Island), and, believe it or not, Las Vegas have been identified as some of the most cost effective destinations in the world. Make your plans early and you can save a lot of money on airfare and still provide your team with a truly unique experience. If your team is small, there are even properties at which you can have exclusive use if you book far enough in advance.
- Have an alcohol free meeting.
Yes there'll be complaints but It won't kill employees if they do without alcohol for one meeting and it will make a significant differenct to your budget.
- Alternatively, serve wine with dinner for only 1 meal, the one you designate as your gala.
- Eliminate or shorten the cocktail reception. You can either have a cash bar or provide 1 drink ticket per person for the cocktail reception.
Also, if you are flying employees in from various locations, why not extend the meeting by half a day or a day. Arrange for early arrivals and late departures. Bring participants who are flying from very far in a night earlier so that they can start the day refreshed. Get a meeting package for your first day. Start your meeting early in the morning on Day 1 and finishing when the rooms are available. Instead of cutting out early, finish later on the last day or earmark that slot for city tours and excursions. If your content is interactive and engaging, the time will go by quickly and employees will leave the meeting energized instead of exhausted. Alternatively, arrange for employees from out of town to stay in town for an extra night. It's relatively cheap to add an extra night if you've already paid travel costs. You can off-set the costs by having local employees reduce the number of nights they stay at the hotel.
Streamlining Your Content
Even if you plan to deliver everything using internal resources, it may be of benefit to engage one of the following resources for half a day to assist you with your planning and meeting design:
- an internal or external accelerated learning specialist to review your content and suggest interactive delivery strategies
- a team building specialist to suggest delivery options that can cover content and, at the same time provide opportunities for teamwork
- a professional meeting planner to review, logistics and flow and ensure that key messaging is incorporated at every opportunity
- a professional event planner to help you select cost effective and interesting venues and hotels
I would be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to toot my own horn and point out that our firm provides all of those services. Select appropriate methods for delivering content that does not require face-to-face delivery. Determine alternatives to Powerpoint presentations for the remaining content. An internal or external learning and development specialist would be the best person to assist you in selecting delivery methods that are appropriate for the content. Here are some ideas to hand-off to your internal facilitators if they don't have this expertise:
Before the Meeting
- Incorporate learning style surveys or HBDI Inventories into your planning
This will make it possible to tailor your approach to content delivery to the group.
- Be sure to incorporate strategies that cater to a variety of learning styles in the design of your meeting. Currently, most designs cater to analytical and structured learners only.
- Extend meeting beyond its 4 walls.
Use Second Life or similar platform to include virtual attendees who were not able to travel to attend the meeting.
- Remember that the environment counts. Park people in a drab meeting room with no windows and seat them in rows and you're guaranteed to have a snooze fest. (See opening photo.)
- Re-engineer the design of your conference agenda to make provide more interactive content
- Every 20 to 30 minutes, break presentations with a group exercises, an exercise in pairs or trios, a case study completed in small groups, or some type of mini-break.
Participants can't engage and absorb new material if they're dozing off
- Instead of sticking with standard 1 hour time slots that force presenters to do an information dump at breakneck speed, provide a variety of time slots including 2 hours and half a day.
- Cater to diverse learning styles through a variety of presentation formats.
- Expand your breaks to 30 minutes to build in more opportunity for networking and give facilitators more time to do set-up for interactive sessions.
- Provide quiet informal spaces for discussions, networking and impromptu meetings.
- Move away from theory and give participants an opportunity to work in small groups, debrief what they have learned and develop a plan to determine how to use what they have learned when they return to work.
- Provide USB drive with notes and worksheets that participants can use to apply once they get back to work.
- Video tape the most important sessions
- Use virtual worlds technology Provide Youtube style videos through a section of your intranet devoted to the meeting. This will make it easy for participants to review meeting content.
Re-Engineered Corporate Meeting Design:
- Participant profiles sent out before meeting to assist with planning, crowdsourcing agenda
- Learning styles inventories sent out before the meeting to assist with selection of delivery methods and formation of teams for team building if required.
Start time is after an lunch.
- CEO presentation to set the stage for the meeting & Identify Business Objectives
- Table top exercises in which participants work in small group to identify related issues of concern to their team or department.
- Re-group into cross-functional teams
- Team Briefing by Team Building Facilitator (Optional)
Day 2 & 3
- Facilitated Business Team Building Simulation (Optional)
- Facilitated Business Exercises and Cases
- Intermittent Recreational activities and team challenges (Highly Recommended but Optional)
- Application: Debriefing of Team Building Simulation (Optional)
- Interactive Presentations and Breakout Sessions with Focus on Key Business Issues
- Short energizers interspersed throughout the session to keep the participants alert, engaged and, most of all, awake
- Business Application Exercises in Original Teams
- Business Meeting to Generate Solutions and Formulate an Implementation Plan
- Implementation and Follow-up
The corporate meeting model is in need of repair. It is essential to pinpoint what your company is investing in meetings and set a meeting management policy. The key is to:
- identify which meetings are really essential
- scrap those that aren't neccesary
- replace content that doesn't require participant interaction with virtual alternatives.
Then, allocate enough time and budget to create interactive and upbeat experiences that engage participants during the face-to-face meetings that are essential. It's a lot better than investing time and money to put people to sleep.
The next time you are thinking about flying your team in from all over the world for a corporate meeting or sales rally...stop! If your company has fallen into a tedious business meeting model, spend some time reviewing the suggestions in this blog entry and consider a new approach. Identify content that doesn't require participant interaction. Work with internal or external specialist to generate alternative formats to present the content before or after your meeting. Re-engineer the content that remains.
I enourage you to post comments and questions. If you found this content to be of value please stumble upon it and share it on Twitter and with your Linkedin Groups.
For hand-off to your meeting planning team and internal learning and development professionals to assist in selecting interactive approaches to meeting content delivery.
Anne Thornley-Brown is the President of Executive Oasis International, a Toronto based consulting firm that offers meeting & strategy session design and facilitation, team building and incentive travel in Canada, the Middle East, Asia, and the Caribbean.
Photo Credit: spotrick
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Corporate Paradigm Shift Part 2 - Breaking Down 3 More Barriers to Corporate Innovation | 12/18/2009
Executive Summary: Part 2 of our Breaking Down Barriers to Corporate Innovation series examines lessons from Eaton's, at one time Canada's leading department store chain that closed in 1999 and companies to watch Royal Selangor in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia’s Hyperpanda, and Batelco in Bahrain. This segment stresses the importance of being alert to shifts in customer demographics, avoiding groupthink and “running with the herd”, and valuing lessons from the “school of hard knocks” more than theory.Part 1: Corproate Paradigm Shift - Breaking Through 3 Barriers to Innovation explores what we can learn from companies to watch 3M and SC Johnson as well as the Jamaican reggae music industry.
Breaking Down 3 More Barriers to Corporate Innovation
Photo Credit: robokow
In a turbulent market, clinging to old ways of doing things and a mindset that values theories about "what's supposed to work" more than "what works" has lead to the decline of many organizations. Let's examine 3 limiting paradigms that can become barriers to innovation:
- The Customer is Always Right
- Majority Rules
- Theory is the Answer
The Customer is Always Right
Is the customer always right? Sometimes this is true. If your customer base is shrinking, it's important to find out why this is happening. Do you need to improve your products and services? Is it time to change your business model? Maybe it is. However, sometimes a shrinking customer base is a sign of a major shift in the market, the need to re-think your offer and move beyond your traditional customer base. Blindly continuing to serve existing customers and rely on their input to shape your direction can actually lead to your organization’s demise.
As discussed in our last issue, it's important to connect the dots and learn from what's happening in other countries. It is also important to avoid the "New Knowledge is King Syndrome". There is a lot that we can learn from examining current and past business successes and failures.
The following story is well known to Canadians. It is a powerful example of what can happen when organizations cling to their traditional customer base and ignore signs that the "times are a changing".
The Death of Eaton's Department Stores: A Canadian Giant
In 1869, Irish immigrant Timothy Eaton, opened a new store in Toronto that would eventually grow to become Canada's most successful department store chain. By 1930, Eaton’s had captured a 60% share of the Canadian department store market. The Eaton’s catalogue and the annual Eaton’s Santa Claus parade became virtual Canadian institutions. By the 1990s, Eaton’s, which had been known as “The Store for Young Canada” during the 1940s and 1950s, was out of step with the youth market. Eaton’s continued to cater to its traditional customer base and offer products that were no longer in demand (example: men’s handkerchiefs when the market had shifted to Kleenex). Its market share declined to 10.6% by 1997. Eaton’s first filed for bankruptcy protection in 1997. T. Eaton Co. Limited went out of business in 1999. While The Eaton Centre still stands, Eaton's is no more.
EATON'S: The History and Legacy of a Canadian Institution
A Company to Watch: Royal Selangor: A Malaysian Success Story @royalselangor
In 1885, Yong Koon left the Chinese port of Swatow and sailed to Selangor where he started a pewter incense burner and candle holder business called Ngeok Foh (Jade Peace) for his Asian customers. In the late 19th century, with the arrrival of the British in Selangor and the formation of the Federated Malay States, Yong Koon expanded his business (by then Selangor Pewter) to cater to a new demographic. The company began to produce ashtrays, tankards, tea services, and other products that would appeal to British customers. By the 1970s, Selangor Pewter began exporting to rapidly growing markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. Exports to Europe and Japan began in the 1980s. In 1992, Selangor Pewter received the royal endorsement of His Royal Highness The Sultan of Selangor and changed its name to Royal Selangor. The name change also represented a re-positioning to the upscale market.
Photo Credit: christyso
Today the company distributes over a thousand different tableware and gift items in 20 countries. It's products range from traditional tankards and elegant tea sets, to captivating photo frames and handsome desk accessories. According the Royal Selangor website, this is the key to its success. "One of the reasons for Royal Selangor's success in the gift and tableware market is its commitment to innovative designs and excellent craftsmanship. Every year, the company comes up with new ranges, some of which have received international recognition."
Rather than clinging to its traditional customer base, Royal Selangor has kept its ear to the ground and shifted its offerings in response to changing demographics and emerging opportunities in the global marketplace. Through product innovation, it exquisitely designs each of its pieces to existing and new customers.
The company markets incudes in it’s marketing mix sponsorships of polo events, regattas and prestigious golf tournaments. It also gives its name to upscale establishments such as the Royal Selangor Polo Club and the Royal Selangor Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur. Its distribution channels include upscale retailers and shopping centres around the world and an online store. Its products are available for consumers and as customized premium items that corporations can offer for sales incentives.
Royal Selangor History
Lessons from Saudi Arabian Hypermarkets
Launched in 1981, Euromarche hypermarket was once the dominant player in the Saudi Arabian market. It offered an innovative concept by having a broad range of products from groceries to gift items, all under one roof. Could Saudi Arabia’s Euromarche have avoided the “not invented here syndrome” and learned important lessons from Eaton’s? Euromarche continued to serve its traditional customer base at 1 location. Its growth was soon out paced by Panda, a small supermarket that had been launched in Ryad in 1979.
A Company to Watch: Hyperpanda Hypermarket @hyperpanda
Photo Credit: jessamyn
Panda learned important lessons from American retailers, grew and transformed itself into Hyperpanda , a hypermarche with innovative designs along the lines of American stores. It featured 24 hour service and a much more broader in product offerings. Hyperpanda now has a network of 100 stores across Saudi Arabia it has expanded to Dubai.
Groupthink and “running with the herd” are major barrier to innovation that can lead to serious errors in decision-making. A lot has already been written about the role that groupthink played in the Bay of Pigs, Challenger Disaster, and demise of Enron. Consensus can be a barrier to innovation. Paying keen attention to the minority perspective can be a key business success factor. Those who express viewpoints that are in the minority are often trailblazers or individuals with specialized knowledge that is of value to their organization. In his Chief Executive Magazine article Top 12 traits of today's CEO, Thomas J. Neff contrasted CEOs who made bold, decisive and, at times, unpopular moves to turn their organizations around with those who were unable to break with tradition and navigate badly needed strategic transitions. One has to wonder about the role that groupthink played in the 2008 US sub-prime mortgage crisis and Wall Street meltdown. It would be disturbing if in all of these organizations, none of the executive team members were able to perceive that certain business practices were flawed. I would hope that even 1 executive attempted to sound the alarm and advocate a change in direction to avert the crisis. If you know of any examples, please share them in “Comments”.
Nine months before the Wall Street Meltdown, utility forecaster, Robert S. Conrad cautioned about the dangers of “running with the herd” and groupthink on Wall Street.
"Running with the herd certainly beats trying to run against it—and getting trampled in the process. But it comes with a cost: surrendering your own common sense for “group think” that often makes no real sense at all."
Running with the Herd by Roger S. Conrad
He explains more on this video.
Here are some other examples of how groupthink "running witth the herd" dynamics get played out on Wall Street:
Running with the Herd Leads you to the Slaughter House!
Theory is the Answer
Often companies rely on management and leadership theories to determine best practices. Andy Keson of Fibreglass Blog shared an interesting perspective in response to a blog about Groupthink:
“Groupthink is a bad disease that we have right now in the U.S. and the world. It seems to be tied to universities and the higher-education experience. I say this as a college graduate myself.
If we look closely at the Wall Street meltdown, Climategate, and the current U.S.government debt problems, I would highly suspect that many of the shared theories that got us here could be traced back to a handful of the same universities where the powerful people come from. If we have a group of professors that think alike, and they spread their groupthink to all of their students, and these alums hire each other into their organizations, we truly have built shared opinion, with tons of peer pressure to obey the consensus.”
Theories are developed by academics based on what’s supposed to happen and what’s supposed to work. Often, they have limited practical experience in the real business world. Theory will only take us so far. A better practice is to examine and glean lessons we can learn from companies that are facing challenges and corporate success stories. They can be found in every corner of the globe. We've looked at OSIM (Singapore), BMW Canada, 3M, SC Johnson, Royal Selangor (Malaysia), and Hyperpanda (Saudi Arabia).
Breaking Down Barriers to Corporate Innovation: The Pay-off
It isn't always easy. All companies encounter challenges of one type or another at some point in their history. When companies take the time to break through barriers to innovation, there is a pay-off. We can learn a lot from companies that are truly innovative and that, as a result, receive recognition form their peers. Here is a splendid example with a corporate success story from the Middle East.
Company to Watch: Batelco (Bahrain) @Batelco
I've had the pleasure of working with Batelco, a truly innovative Middle Eastern telecommunications firm that has grown rapidly. Batelco is Bahrain's leading telecommunications provider with operations and/or joint ventures in Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, and India. Batelco has had a highly profitable year and it was recently recognized as:
Here Batelco's CEO Peter Kaliaropoulous speaks about the importance of innovation for success in the competitive wireless communications industry.
Arabian Business Interview with Batelco CEO [Video Footage Included]
Providing exceptional customer service to existing clients is important. In a turbulent market, for corporate survival it can be even more important to scan the horizons, spot shifts in demographics and design innovative services, products and distribution channels to reach emerging market segments at home and abroad. To come up with truly innovative strategies, it is also beneficial to examine corporate successes and failures around the world.
We've looked at 6 barriers to innovation that it's important to break through for succces in a turbulent market. Breaking down barriers to innovation isn't easy but as we've seen from the examples provided, it can be done.
This week take your team through an exercise in which you have a look at demand patterns for your core products and services. If there have been some shifts, try to uncover what is causing them and examine relevant demographics that may provide a clue to new market opportunities. In the New Year, take the time to hunt for news stories about business practice, new products and service models in your industry. The next time you go on an overseas business trip, extend your stay by half a day and take time for a factory tour. Whether it’s a Tour of the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre and Pewter Factory or School of Hard Knocks, the BohTea Plantation in Malasyia or a Toyota plant tour in Japan, some of the ideas you pick up may be just what you need to spark for your own innovation to fuel growth in 2010 and beyond.
Finally, if you like this post, please let us know by favouriting it, Stumbling Upon it and re-tweeting it. That way we'll know to keep more like this coming.
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Corporate Paradigm Shift: Breaking Through 3 Barriers to Innovation | 11/22/2009
Executive Summary Change is the name of the game in business today. Corporate survival involves more than getting used to change. Visionary executives (I call them Visexecutaries) embrace change and harness the creative genius of their people to seize emerging opportunities. Overcoming barriers to innovation involves a change in mindset and recognizing when conventional wisdom no longer applies. We may not like it. (I know I don't.) We can learn important lessons from changes in the music and photography industries and companies to watch like 3M and SC Johnson that use constant innovation to generate new streams of revenue from Post-it Flags and Ziploc bags. Malaysia's Digi provides a model for promotional and product innovation geared to the youth market.Part 2: Corporate Paradigm Shift: Breaking Down 3 More Barriers to Corporate Innovation examines lessons from companies to watch Royal Selangor from Malaysia, Batelco from Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia's Hyperpanda.
6 Barriers to Innovation
There are many barriers that can prevent organizations from embracing change, however, I’m going to focus on the 6 that I see most often in my consulting work with organizations. They represent outdated paradigms and stand in the way of innovation and success. Breaking through each of them requires a change in mindset.
- The "That’s Not How we Do it Here" Syndrome
- The "Not Invented Here" Syndrome
- New Knowledge is King
- Theory is the Answer
- Majority Rules
- The Customer is Always Right
We'll focus on the first 3 today and discuss the rest some other time.
The "That’s Not How we Do it Here" Syndrome
In a turbulent economy, when the rules are constantly changing, innovation is often stifled with the words "That’s not how we do it here". As a result, many organizations fail to spot trends in their marketplace. Some don't adapt until they have lost significant market share and allowed competitors to make deep in-roads. Others never adapt until they go out of business.
Lessons from the Music Industry
Photo Credit: The 60s Official Site
If you don't, it's evidence of just how quickly things change. Not that long ago, it was a common item in just about every household in North America. If you remember it, you've witnessed dramatic shifts in the music industry. You've seen the transition from 45s and 33 1/3 LP records to cassettes to CDS to Itunes. You've gone from listening to music on transistor radios to Walkman's to CD players to IPODs. Companies in the music industry that have made the transition are still around. The others, we barely remember.
Lessons from the Photography Industry
It took Kodak and Polaroid time to realize the impact of new developments in their market. They were slow to perceive the opportunities that digital cameras presented and adapt to the new technology. For a while, both companies got stuck in the "that's not how we do it here" syndrome and failed to embrace the new of doing things. Eventually, Polaroid made the transition to serve the niche TV, commercial and film markets. Kodak has formed an alliance with Wal-Mart to develop photo CDs. It will be interesting to see Kodak and the new Polaroid continue to re-invent themselves.
The "Not Invented Here" Syndrome
In a turbulent economy, influences are no longer just local. They're global. We've seen the global impact of H1N1 and many natural disasters yet we fail to connect the dots to business. In the same way that diseases and disasters can send shockwaves around the globe, new strategies and breakthroughs sometimes come from other industries. Models of innovation often come from unexpected sources including other countries, sports, your personal life, even your children, and ESPECIALLY your teenagers.
Here are examples of how Batelco in Bahrain and Digi in Malaysia have targeted the youth segment in their wireless communications product offerings and marketing.
Interview with Batleco's Muna Al Hashimi, General Manager of consumer division
Muna speaks about social media integration and innovative services for the youth market segment.
Please take note of an excellent example of youth oriented advertising from Batelco:
Company to Watch: Digi - DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (Malaysia) @Digi_Telco
I have had the pleasure of having delegates from DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd attend my sessions in Kuala Lumpur since 2001.
Digi has had a focus on the youth market with very edgy youth oriented campaigns from before I was even aware of the company. This focus continues today with its "Yellow Invasion" campaign that interestingly enough even integrates Lesley Gore's 1963 American hit "I will Follow Him". Definitely, Digi is definitely not stuck in the "Not Invented Here" or "New Knowledge is King" syndromes. Please notice the full social media integration on Digi's website.
Youth market vital for DiGi (2009)
DiGi Telecom Unveils New Brand Positioning (2001 Digi Press Release)
By contrast, I have noticed Canadian wireless communications firms have started to offer youth oriented campaigns only relatively recently.
We need to pay attention. Focusing strictly on what happens “here” in our company, profession, industry, or country is tunnel vision and it will result in missed opportunities. For example, teens are text messaging like crazy yet how many companies targeting the teenage market have begun to use what is their preferred method of communication to reach them? How many wireless communications firms are selling text message ad space as an additional source of revenue? I have access to a teenager who is a power text messager ;) and he rarely encounters them. If you know of examples, please post them in the comments.
Youth market vital for DiGi
Lessons from Asia
Examples of technology and services I saw in Asia long before they turned up in Toronto.
Jumbotron screens on top of high rises - Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
USB drives - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Tiny cell phones in a range of colours - Malaysia
- Cellular telephone advertising targeted at teenagers - Malaysia
Internet Cafes - Singapore
- Manicure parlours and Salons - Malaysia
- Video games on cell phones - Tokyo
Cans that keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot - Japan
- Vending Machines just about everywhere for just about everything - Japan
These represented business opportunities in North America for savvy entrepreneurs. Some of these innovations are still not widely used in North America.
That's why companies that completely cancel foreign incentives and retreats or spend their time lying on the beach and at the bar are very short-sighted. They miss out on a golden opportunity to scope out what's going on in other countries, scan the horizon to see what’s coming, and identify innovations that they can introduce back home. These trips may need to be scaled back in some instances but using a part of them to familiarize top performers with a business practices in other countries, may be a more fruitful course of action.
Update: December 18, 2009
Some North American companies are finally learning from the Japanese and using vending machines to sell products other than beverages and snack items. Today, for the first time, I saw a Mark's Express vending machine selling Mark's Work Warehouse products at the Union Station Go Bus Terminal. I didn't notice it when I was there last week. Vending Machines with Ipod's, Vivatar and Canon cameras are now starting to pop up at airports and in Macy's stores in the USA.
Photo Credit: avatar28
Trends develop and travel just as easily from East to West as they do from West to East. By taking the time to monitor developments in the North American market, Asian, European and Middle Eastern companies can see the shape of things to come and make adjustments early. Here are some examples from recent headlines of how this applies to wireless communications, plastic bag manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies.
Ontario Follows Suit in Cell Phone Ban Legislation
In some jurisdictions, pharmaceutical sale representatives are no longer permitted to take doctors out to lunch:
Vermont: No More Free Lunch?
Responding to this development, rather than waiting for similar legislation to be enacted in more jurisdictions, some pharmaceutical companies voluntarily signed the PHARMA Code on Interacting with Healthcare Professionals that took effect in January, 2009. This was a good way to overcome the not invented here syndrome.
Being aware of what is happening "over there" and responding proactively can lead to the creation of new businesses and the identification of new streams of revenue for existing businesses. At least one firm, has recognized the business opportunity in the new pharmaceutical legislation and codes. They've launched:
Restaurants and caterers in other areas who have been hit by a decline in revenue from the new legislation and the code (and in the number of meeting and corporate events in general) may be able to apply this model or open a franchise in their local market.
New Knowledge is King
By now some of you are probably thinking, tell us something we don't know. This bring us to our 3rd barrier to innovation, thinking that new knowledge is king. Innovation often comes from using the familiar in new ways. We've all heard the expression:
"It’s not what you know it’s what you DO with what you know that counts."
Company to Watch: 3M @postitproducts
We've all heard the story about the invention of the post-it note until we can repeat it in our sleep. Before you roll your eyes, do we really know the full story?
Have you seen what 3M is doing with Post-it Notes now?
By making them bigger, smaller, using different shapes, a variety of colours, and now creating digital versions of the Post it-note, 3M innovation continues to work its magic and transform this 1 product into a seemingly endless stream of revenue. (Please take note of the social media integration with Twitter, Facebook and social bookmarking at 3Ms Post-it Products website.)
Lessons from Plastic Bag Manufacturers
This approach doesn't only work for Post-it notes. It is transforming the plastic bag industry. Glad bags now come in various shapes and sizes and with a variety of fasteners. Just how much bigger can plastic bags go? What SC Johnson is doing with Ziploc blew me away.
Ziploc Big Bags
Is it enough for companies to find new and better ways of using their products? Manufacturers of plastic bags need to be very much aware of emerging global trends that impact their market....and so do other industries:
San Francisco bans traditional plastic grocery bags
No plastic bag ban for Ontario
It's official: Manitoba town gives plastic bags the boot
In the pharmaceutical industry, the same compound can be released in different strengths and a variety of forms ranging from pill and capsule to liquid and suspension. The telecommunications industry looks for new ways to use existing technology. The same technology that was once used for voice has been modified and it now also carries data. The wireless communications industry markets essentially the same technology in different sizes, colours and with a variety of features through service bundles appealing to specific market segments.
We can also draw examples from Jamaica's reggae music industry. Long before reggae became popular on the international scene, Jamaican record producers would release a "version" of the A side track on the B side of 45 records. Sometimes it was the studio musicians and recording studio engineers who would experiment and come up with something new and creative based on the A side track. Other times, it would be a band that was not as well known across the island doing their rendition of what was on the A side. This eventually grew into an art from and created dub which has exploded internationally. There are dozens and dozens of versions of some of the more popular Jamaican rhythm tracks, ranging from dub to DJ toasting to dancehall style music. Dub music has also had a major influence on its cousins rap and hip hop.
Due to this innovative approach to creating new music from the old, reggae can now be heard in every corner of the globe. It has been used for everything from the on hold music at a luxury Mumbai hotel to the overhead head music that creates a relaxing experience for shoppers at Singapore's Orchard Road location of the Japanese department store Takashimaya. I've smiled when I've heard a the reggae version of a traditional Jamaican folk song "Brown Girl in the Ring" at the airport in Kuala Lumpur and Bob Marley playing at a coffee shoppe at Tokyo's Narita airport. This is phenomenal. When one considers that Jamaica has a populaton of only about 2.5 million, the influence of Jamaican music on the world music scene has staggering. In the same way, entrepreneurs can have an impact far beyond the size of their businesses by using the familiar in new and creative ways.
In this video, Joel Barker, the futurist and innovation pioneer who first used the term "Corporate Paradigm Shift" gives another example of how German robotics technology was applied with success to a totally different industry. It's a perfect example of what businesses can accomplish when they break through the "New Knowledge is King" barrier:
There is much more to the Post-it Note story than most of us realize. This success could only have come from a company like 3M that truly embraces innovation. At 3M, innovation is a way of life. 3M takes this a lot further than other companies. It turns the “that’s not how we do it here” and "not invented here" syndromes upside down recognizing that breakthroughs don't always come from within 1 company or country. 3M actively invites the public to submit ideas for new products at their websites around the world:
3M Submit Your Idea Site
3M also breaks through the new knowledge is king barrier. In their quest to discover new ways to use existing products, 3M websites solicit ideas from the general public. 3M provided a brilliant example of social media integration when it had a contest to identify new ways to use Post-it Notes and asked contestants to upload their entries to Youtube. 3M also announced the winners on Youtube.
Caution: This download was slow on my computer so I won't include the full URL until I locate a faster version. If anyone else finds it, please include the URL in the comments leaving out everything before the
How does all of this apply to your industry? Share these examples with your team and take time to do some brainstorming. Better yet, arrange a focus group. Share these examples with some of your best clients and, through brainstorming, you'll be able to come up with a range of ideas that you probably never considered.
The next time you reward your team with a trip to another country or attend a business meeting abroad, extend your trip by a day. Look around. Organize a team challenge that sends people out to scout and come back with examples of new technological developments that could be used in your market. Arrange field trips to companies in your industry and other industries. It will be time and money well spent.
There is no need to get on the plane to find models of innovation. The beauty of the Internet is that you have a look at what companies in your industry are doing around the globe. Look at press releases for the last decade. Find examples of commercials on Youtube. Monitor trends through websites like:
You may just stumble across an idea or approach that will inspire you to do something innovative in your market
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Corporate Survival: The New Economic Game | 11/09/2009
Executive Summary: Survival is the name of the game in this economy. No organization can be fully shielded from the shockwaves of economic turbulence. To thrive in a tough economy, requires a change in mindset. Corporate Survival: The New Economic Game examines the lessons we can all learn from marketing innovators like Apple, BMW Canada, Singapore based Osim International, and Canada's CBL Data Recovery Technologies Inc.
- Avoid the "Not Invented Here" Syndrome,
- Re-think Your Offer and Re-Invent Yourself
- Shift Your Paradigm
- Move Beyond Conventional Wisdom
Osim International, Luxury mall kiosk, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I discovered Osim International when I first travelled to Asia in 2000. We can learn a lot from its innovative marketing strategies, successes and recent challenges. It's one of my favourite companies and I've been watching its performance ever since. Osim International, Singapore based manufacturer of luxury massage chairs and healthy lifestyle products, is very much a company to watch. This photo was taken on a field trip to one of Osim International's interactive luxury kiosks at a shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during one of Executive Oasis International's executive team building sessions (Visexecutaries: Seizing Opportunities in our Shifting Corporate Landscape).
People rarely have a neutral reaction to Survivor, the American reality TV show. Love it or hate it, it’s impossible to ignore it. Given our turbulent economic climate, Survivor is a powerful metaphor for what’s going on in the marketplace.
Changing Times … Changing Rules
In the real world, just like on Survivor, no one is immune. Anyone can get “voted off” the island. We have had a number of wake-up calls. There is no need to repeat the names of all of the corporate giants that have tumbled. We read about them daily in the headlines. Survival is the name of the game in this economy. It’s tough out there so it’s not hard to understand why a show that enacts these dynamics metaphorically would continue to appeal to such a large audience.
A Change in Mindset
Truth is there are no magic answers, just some strategies to consider. To survive this economic crunch requires a change in mindset. It involves recognizing that what worked last year may not be the right strategy for tomorrow or even today. It will take the courage to try something different, a lot of support from suppliers, partners, and employees and, a lot of prayer.
When there is a downturn, marketing is often one of the first areas to be cut. Remember, Eaton’s? This Canadian retail giant, went out of business because its senior management team lost touch with their customers and marketplace trends. To survive this economic crisis, you need regular and accurate data about your customers and your market. Rigorously track demand patterns in your key markets. Scan the horizon and seize opportunities in emerging growth markets.
Ask yourself "What marketing strategies have been most effective in bringing you new business?"
- Focus on those areas.
- Save money by eliminating or scaling back efforts that haven’t been paying off.
We have all learned from the current global economic crisis and the dotcom meltdown a few years ago that we neglect the fundamentals at our own peril.
Identify Potential Sources of new Business
Ask yourself "What new market niches can you target?
- The ethnic market is growing dramatically in North America but you would never know it when you look at most advertising campaigns. Should you be promoting your products and services in Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, or Mandarin?
- The explosion on the Internet has literally opened up a world of opportunities, even for small businesses. The Web 2.0 is hitting in full force. Your company can't afford not to be there. So explore LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Second Life. Where ever your customers are, you can't afford NOT to be there.
- Go global. If your domestic markets are stagnating, look to areas of the world where there is growth and an increasing demand for your products and services. This is by no means a foolproof strategy without pitfalls.
Osim International's strategy to "go global" by teaming up with US based Brookstone ended up being a significant drain on their bottom line.
- If your traditional marketing strategy is business-to-consumer, ask yourself “In what way can I add value and attract potential corporate clients?”
Founded in 1980, Osim International, a Singapore based company with a stellar track record in product innovation, has traditionally marketed high end massage chairs for the consumer market in Asia. In 2008, Emirates Airlines signed an agreement to purchase Osim massage chairs for all 18 of its dedicated first and business class lounges worldwide.
Avoid the "Not Invented Here" Syndrome
During times of change and turbulence, a narrow focus on practices in one's industry and country will be a barrier to innovation. Search for best practices and innovative practices in other industries and beyond your own borders. Learn from failures and successes, opportunities and challenges. Here is one of our first of many Companies to Watch that we will be exploring.
Company to Watch Osim International in Singapore @Osim_SG
Osim International TV Commercial:
Check out this no-holds barred discussion of company performance and challenges with Rom Sim, Osim International's founder and CEO:
By all indications, the company seems to on the way to recovery.
OSIM International 2009 Performance
Osim International Corporate Profile and Vision:
Ask yourself "What are my competitors doing and should I be forging a strategic alliance with them?
One of the contributing factors to the problems in the telco industry is that too many companies have been focusing on the same narrow market niche creating an over supply in the market. At least, 6 years ago I wrote about the fact that the real estate market was setting itself up for a similar problem by building too many luxury condos for the upscale market. Meltdowns in the real estate market from Manhattan to Dubai have shown that, if you’re all chasing after the same customers, there is bound to be a problem. Sometimes it is possible to bundle your services in new ways to serve a larger customer. I know in speaking with some of the firms I perceived as competition, I discovered that we really were offering different services. Two were specializing in strictly recreational events for teams while Executive Oasis International focuses on professionally facilitated business team building simulations and retreats that may or may not include recreational components. Another perceived competitor specializes in 2 hour to half day simulations and has no interest in the 2 - 3 day simulations and retreats that we offer. There were lots of opportunities for cross-referrals. I would never have discovered this without speaking with competitors.
Re-think Your Offer and Re-Invent Yourself
Pinpoint your core areas of expertise and do some brainstorming to identify other ways in which you can use and apply it to create new services and products.
Founded in 1993, CBL Data Recovery Technologies Inc. used to re-furbish and repair hard drives. A drop in the price of hard drives resulted in reduced demand for his services. CEO re-thought the company’s core offering applied the company’s expertise to data retrieval from damaged hard drives or hard drives that have crashed.
In 2000, the company generated a profit of over $1,227,000 and was ranked by Profit Magazine as the 89th fastest growing company in Canada. The company has experienced steady growth worldwide since then. It now has worldwide labs in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean.
If your core market is declining or competitive pressures are eroding your bottom line, search for new opportunities.
Company to Watch: Apple
Under the leadership of Steve Jobs, Apple is the ultimate example of a company that has re-invented itself and experienced expolsive growth in a brand new market. With the MAC, Apple had a product with a high level of consumer appeal. Microsoft out foxed Apple by marketing their computers and operating systems to IT professionals and decision makers within the corporate arena. I can still remember when as a Management Development Specialist, I was practically kicking and screaming when my MAC was taken away from me. In fact, due to my protests, our department and Marketing were among the last 2 to convert to Windows NT. Apple became a niche player in the PC market catering to media and high end design houses. Apple was down but definitely not out. Under the leadership of Steve Jobs, Apple moved beyond the Mac and exploded onto the scene with the iPod and ITunes and revolutionized the music industry. It will be interesting to watch the growth of the iPhone and iTablet.
You can trace Apple's evolution through this series of Articles.
Shift Your Paradigm and Move Beyond Conventional Wisdom
According to conventional wisdom, companies that offer luxury procucts and services should never discount their prices as this will erode brand equity in the mind of the consumer. Is this always true? Think again.
BMW Canada had its BEST October ever in 2008 when the North American automobile industry was on the verge of collapse. In October, 2009, it surpassed THOSE results. year-to-date sales for 2009 are up 2%. Why? Instead of following the conventional wisdom that providers of luxury goods should never cut their prices, they reduced prices on some models and invested in glossy spreads in Canadian consumer magazines. Luxury became affordable and a BMW became accesible to some consumers for whom this premium brand had been just out of reach.
It's a Different Ball Game
In a turbulent marketplace, all bets are off. It's a different ball game. The old rules don’t necessarily apply and there is a need to re-think the way things are “supposed to work” according to the experts. If a particular strategy is supposed to work but it's no longer working, then it's time to change a losing game. This usually isn’t easy to do, but it’s worth it. To give your team an opportunity to explore more corporate survival strategies, why not let us bring our oasis to you:
Photo Credit: Executive Oasis International
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Waves of Economic Turbulence: The Ripple Effect | 11/08/2009
Photo Credit: Executive Oasis International - Desert Near Abu Dhbai, United Arab Emirates
"Turbulence is the new normal." - Philip Kotler
Often, when people think of a desert, they picture flat and sandy terrain that stretches in every direction as far as the eye can see. I've been to deserts in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman many times. A desert is actually a rugged environment with towering sand dunes, desert storms, and extreme hot and cold temperatures. In some deserts, one can travel for miles upon miles and see few signs of vegetation or growth.
The desert is a perfect metaphor for our global marketplace since 2001. Dramatic fluctuations in corporate performance, stock market meltdowns, skyrocketing and then plummeting oil prices, the sweeping effect of 9/11, H1N1, SARS, tsunamis, hurricanes, and other cataclysmic events have their parallel in desert storms. They have hurled the global economy into a tailspin. The ripple effect has been a tough and fiercely competitive tough environment in which to grow your business.
In the desert, jeeps race up and down sand dunes in roller coaster fashion. If they don't, it's easy to get stuck and end up spinning your wheels. In the same way, the pace of change has accelerated in the business world. Organizations have to move at break neck speed to stay ahead of the competition. That isn't about to change any time soon.
To survive, thrive and grow in our turbulent economy, even companies that are performing well need to be alert, on top of their game, and agile enough to respond quickly and effectively to changes in the marketplace. This means re-thinking old paradigms and inventing new ways of doing business. It will involve:
- fostering innovation
- re-thinking your vision
- improving products and services
- re-shaping your marketing strategy
- building a cohesive and focused network of teams
- transforming team leader/team member interactions
- modifying supplier and distribution networks
- and even forging alliances with the competition
In a fast paced environment, it's not always easy for executives to pause, reflect and devote quality time to these areas.
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Oasis = A Place of Calm & Growth in the Midst of Turbulence | 11/08/2009
My favourite place on the planet captures the essence of an oasis.
From time immemorial, weary travellers have wandered through the desert in search of the next oasis to refuel, rechart their course and find the strength to continue their journey. We created this space for executives and their teams to relax, re-charge their batteries and explore fresh strategies to succeed in the midst of turbulence.
- A place to innovate.
- Relax beside a bubbling stream
- Enjoy some soothing music
- Continue your journey when you're refreshed
We invite you to join us whenever you need a refreshing change.
The Tough Guide to Corporate Survival for Executives
We hope that one day soon you'll invite us to bring our oasis to you.
Photo Credit: Used with Permission Brian Smith
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