November 21, 2013

The 7 New Business Sandbox Rules

You are here mapBusiness is no longer and will never be ‘as usual’. Competition, and global at that, has for the time being removed the shackles from the Customers. They have a choice, in every area, and they have the freedom to vote with their feet. The term ‘for the time being’ is deliberate. In Australia (and in many developed and debt-ridden countries) we have a choice too. We, every business, every Leader, every executive and every employee, can take fast and decisive action to turn things around. Or, we will soon find ourselves in different shackles, ‘made in China’, or India or Brazil; and then we will lose the freedom of choice.

Here are the 7 New Business Sandbox Rules for market leadership.

The 7 New Sandbox Business Rules:

  1. Audience
  2. Insanely Different
  3. Authenticity
  4. Human Givens
  5. Awesomeness
  6. Influence
  7. Culture [InnoTainment]

In this article I will address the first two. Not just because of respect for your time as a reader, but also to give you time to think through these critical building blocks of a truly competitive, insanely successful business.

I.     Audience

Visions Ain’t Visions. Ed Catmull was an innovator in the growing field of high tech computer graphics. His vision was to make the world’s first computer animated feature film. After meeting Catmull in 1986, Steve Jobs was inspired to imagine an even bolder vision. He bought Catmull’s division from LucasFilm, renamed it Pixar and gave it this bold direction:

“Over time we want Pixar to grow into a brand that embodies the same level of trust as the Disney brand.”

Sustainable business cannot exist without a grand vision that attracts great talent. And, great, talented people will not stay around to do just nuts and bolts without a meaning. They don’t want to lay bricks; they want to build a cathedral.

Business success starts with the Business Leader’s Vision. Vision, evangelised by the Leader and every employee creates Audiences: internal and external. It becomes the torch illuminating the path forward for an organisation. As any source of light it requires a reliable supply of energy and a way to switch it on every night. Brand Leadership is that source of energy and must be driven by no other than the Leader, personally and consistently. Consistency and frequency is everything.

Guy Kawasaki, one of the world’s most famous technocrats and bloggers and former Apple employee and Mac Evangelist, says, “We all thought we were going to change the world with our little computer, and we worked 90 hours a week… and drank six-colour Kool-Aid every day” (reference to the 6-colour Apple logo in the 80s).

II.      Insanely Different

Without clear differentiation a business will rarely succeed in the long run. Forced to compete on price, with difficulty to sell undifferentiated products or services, it will never have the necessary profit buffer to innovate and marketing becomes expensive and ineffective. Next step: closing down sale!

Forget benchmarking. Differentiation is not about comparing yourself to competitors. It’s about seeing market needs differently and addressing them faster and better than anyone else. You know when you are doing well if you apply the right strategic approach.

Benchmarking can only measure retrospective compliance and forces you to play the game by someone else’s rules. Leaders inevitably set their own game rules and benchmarks. They, in the bandwidth of their own Competitive Advantage, become the Benchmark.

When you set your own rules, others have to follow. The key task of a Competitive organisation is to have systems in place to continually innovate ONE THING: how to defend your competitive ground. Innovation is simply continuously looking for and applying new ideas, connections, trends, pre-empting threats, fast response to relevant opportunities and new technologies to sharpen the competitive outcomes.

The organisation is conditioned to broaden the gap EVERY DAY WITH EVERY ACTIVITY!

Constant Innovation, powered by constant two-way marketing, is your life blood. You need a balance of both, flowing through every vain and artery of your business!

“A company can outperform rivals only if it can establish a difference in Activities that it can preserve.” Michael Porter

Establishing a Competitive Positioning requires deliberately choosing to perform activities differently than rivals do or to perform different activities to the norm.

A good Marketing and Innovation Audit that is focused on unique activities enables an organisation to set practical goals and parameters for action and to measure progress. It brings Vision to the foreground your and maps out path for personal Leadership of every employee.

III.     Authenticity

The customer universe has become more informed, more sophisticated (in some ways, not always good) and, as a result, more cynical. But, this has also elevated the value of Trust.

More next week…

For more insights and practical path to easier, cheaper and faster success, tune into the next InnoFuture Business RIOT on Blueprint for Productivity, Innovation and Growth.
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