THINK BIG, ACT SMALL
WITH BRILLIANT MISTAKES
"Genius? Nothing! Sticking to it is the genius! ... I've failed my way to success."
Recession of ’08-??” requires “next level” insights and tactics to regain healthy
profitability. Research studies conclude,
however, that only about 5% of all firms in mature industries do significantly
“new” stuff on a continuous basis. Perhaps
another 10% of the players might try to copy the innovators to minimize market
share loss to those innovators, but often with incomplete knowledge of the whys
the other 85%? Are they content to fine tune
the past hoping that the economic tides of earlier phases of industry
life-cycles will return to re-float their boats? Or do they need new, big, best-ideas-for-them
and / or new ways to get around their fears of failure that come with trying
four-step formula for all companies to become (better) perpetual innovators specifically
focused on their own, best, existing opportunities:
Big with “quantum profit” insights about your business’ internal
cross-subsidies between the super-winner and super-loser customers and products.
the wheel of learning.
zone, design and execute “brilliant, little mistakes”.
everyone to keep doing the first three steps ever better by making these
learning concepts part of the company culture and leading by example.
PICK A MINDSET ―
THINK: BIG or SMALL / ACT: BIG or SMALL
We all fall
into one of the following four management-style quadrants:
small, act small. This is the most common mindset in
small business America,
which is why most of the “self-employed” aren’t truly “entrepreneurs” and why
they stay small. Business owners with
this view aren’t likely to imagine taking risks to design a better business
model to deliver a better value proposition for the right customers in the
right niches in their service area. They’re
too busy working in the business to analyze and improve the underlying model. Within the daily whirl of activity every customer
– profitable or not – is a good customer.
Profits are so meager and survival so tenuous that it seems too risky to
change anything, so they’ll maintain whatever worked before.
small, act big. This group is quite vocal, but more bluster
than action. They won’t stop telling you
how big and great they could be if only they weren’t being victimized by:
Wal-Mart; the government; too many unfair competitors; etc. They can be contentious about how best to do
lots of little things, as they confuse the superficial, visible, gimmicky stuff
in business with what is strategically substantive.
big, act big. These guys will eventually crash because:
tend to go for broke in good times and bust in bad.
love sales volume (vanity) over free-cash-flow (sanity); they are too much sail
and not enough keel.
concepts may be good – but for lack of getting the details right and thorough
execution – they crash.
big, act small. This is the only option that –
well executed – will create a winning, business model and generate sustainable economic
growth for all stakeholders. But, how do
you: 1) think about the right, best, big ideas, and then 2) fail forward,
fearlessly, fast, frugally, flexibly, faithfully (with) fun? (That’s 8 alliterative F’s)
BEST SOURCE FOR “THINK
BIG” IDEAS IN A TOUGH ECONOMY?
global credit bubble takes years to deflate, it is best to zero in on both our
most profitable and unprofitable activities in order to manage them
appropriately. Waypoint Analytics’
“Quantum Profit Service” (QPS), a web-based, subscription service for
distributors will (with a 3-week implementation) rank customers, SKUs,
suppliers and sales territories by profitability.
DVD training modules and online consulting sessions, QPS will provide
distributors with a number of radical profit improvement plays that can yield
dramatic profit results depending on how well we can:
our fears of: being both unfamiliar with and unskilled at these new, transformational
plays; and achieving “bad” results.
2. Push the wheel of learning.
back to #1 Questions (recycle) to come up with compelling, right questions and
theories to “live into” (to comfort zone) before adapting the plays to our unique
Small with “experiments” that are well designed by using the “8Fs”:
Fearlessly (towards some vision
within some operating theory in bite-size steps that are small enough that the
least courageous amongst us will laugh and say “why not!”).
Fast and Frugally:
the smaller the experiment the more: frugally it can be designed; the faster it
can be done which overcomes analysis paralysis; and the less costly or noticed
any “failure” might be.
we act, other variables and people in our environment will react to and
cooperatively enjoin our action. If we
examine new, experimental conditions and reactions by also looking up and down
and sideways, we will always find serendipitous learning, new contacts and
· Most experiments are not pure successes, but all
outcomes have the potential for
learning to try again smarter and
differently the subsequent time.
persistence will win.
Faith and Fun. Doing anything new or
old (like riding a bike for the first time)
will be unsuccessful to some degree. We
must have faith that if we adhere to the
8 F’s, we will: learn-by-doing from the start; get better with practice;
trip over new stuff; and move towards next level improvement (mastery) or
differentiating innovation. If we see
this all as “fun”, because:
are no bad outcomes, all is learning
increase our odds for busting out of our boring ruts and mediocre-to-poor profitability,
we will be even more open to doing this whole process well and seeing the
serendipitous benefits too
forward with fun also helps us tip-toe around ego needs for having to always be
right. (Being an expert – on / at the
past – is a benefit for judging the law, but outdated and profitless in
business where “new value / cost” beats excess-supply, best-practice, commodity
to lead “failing forward” by example, teach all employees – with personal case studies – both good and not-as-good
mistakes using the 8 F guidelines checklist.
CEOs, by job definition, make the biggest, most expensive mistakes. If we share some of our brilliant and less-brilliant
mistakes using our new guidelines, then everyone will be emboldened to at least
think of good experiments to run by us for critique and approval.
think that your company could be doing a more proactively successful job at:
most profitable accounts by taking them to the next level
and/or cracking target, fast-growth accounts (gazelles)
big losing accounts into winners (lead to gold)
through the “5-5-5 Kit” at http://merrifield.com.
The kit has lots of wheel-of-learning-type
“questions” as well as “theories” and some how-to ideas. The challenge is to then design an 8F
experiment aimed at each subset of high-leverage accounts.
Consulting Group, Inc., Article 2.34