Seeing things differently
A more insightful and inspired approach to innovation and growth. Peter Fisk
Business has grown fat and lazy on the predictability of markets, dominated largely by communicating what exists to those who will listen. In recent years business has become more analytical, driven by databases and metrics. It has also become more intrusive of the customer, and less effective. Indeed in today's highly complex markets - where audiences have fragmented and competitive intensity has tripled, where consumers receive 1500 promotional stimuli every day and typically make decisions in 2.6 seconds - a more intelligent approach is required, to identify the best opportunities, to focus on what really matters. However today’s business also requires a more creative approach, to stand out from the crowd, to engage suspicious and promiscuous consumers, to sustain innovation which is not commoditised before it even reaches the market, and to exploit the emerging markets that will drive future cashflows.
Intelligent thinking of Einstein Google’s innovative business model for profitable search JetBlue’s niche focus creates a premium, low cost airline Microsoft rethinking its customer propositions from the outside in P&G gains new insights through customer collaboration Toyota’s Toyata’s lean thinking to work from the customer back eBay leverages the scale and power of online networking Dell’s direct personalisation and interactive supply chain Diageo’s balanced portfolio of profitable brands Cadbury’s disciplined metrics linked to economic profit Imaginative action of Picasso Apple’s market vision that redefines a whole industry Nike’s brand about you and your aspirations, rather than them 3M’s continuous innovation of concepts, products and markets Innocent’s storytelling with a passion for fresh thinking Jones Soda’s irreverence that makes it a cult brand Zara’s speed to market of its ready-made clothes Alessi’s aesthetic design combines function and form Cirque du Soleil’s heart-stopping entertainment experiences Agent Provocateur’s theatre thrills on screen and in store
From the desire for an iPhone to the funky world of Crocs shoes, the network power of MySpace to the disruptive impact of Skype, the virtual vision of Li & Fung to the opulence of Shanghai Tang, today’s market leaders think different.
© Peter Fisk 2008
The “genius” of business lies in the ability to make sense of apparent conflicts or paradox. It lies in the ability to connect outside and inside, markets and business, customers and shareholders, creativity and analysis, promises and reality, today and tomorrow. Customer insight and creativity are important, but must be combined with the analytical and commercial rigour that drives strategy, innovation and growth. Leading businesses, like Einstein and Picasso before them, see things differently, as a result believe different things, and by applying their intelligence in more imaginative ways can do extraordinary things. Taking off the blinkers Too many businesses are obsessed with themselves, and the organisations and products which they describe – how to do what they do better, reduce their cost base, automate their processes – rather than their outside. This important but limiting preoccupation - plus the blinkers of functional silos and industry conventions - means that businesses often miss what matters most. Similarly, the obsession with more data, more analysis, more measurement, and more process leaves little space for intuition, creativity and the bigger picture. We look to employ people who are masters of the spreadsheet, rather than for their different skills and experiences. It is a recipe by which companies will converge to sameness, for incrementalism, and ultimately for irrelevance. Ask Kodak, the market leader in photographic film for many decades, who within a handful of years found that their market had disappeared, swallowed up by alien...
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