Archive

Posts Tagged ‘change’

Leave your comfort zone!

October 18, 2010 Leave a comment

The Biblical Abraham was one of the world’s most successful individuals. (It doesn’t actually matter whether or not Abraham really existed – from a Biblical critical perspective. He is revered by at least half the world’s population who belong to one of the three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As such his influence has been immense). In the Bible, the story of Abraham starts in Genesis – chapter 12. God commands him to leave his country, his extended family and his father’s house and to move to a land that God would show him. In return, God promises that Abram (Abraham) would become a great nation, and that he will be blessed.

Of course the Biblical commentators have a field day looking at the wording and what was being said. However I think that in fact, the idea is quite simple. Abraham was being told to take a risk and to do something new. In return, he was promised success in his venture. This is a lesson that businesses and individuals can learn from – and perhaps governments too.

  • Where is the safest place for an individual? Generally the parental home.
  • Where can one expect help from when things go wrong? From close family and friends.
  • Where are you most likely to know your way around and know the “system” – and least likely to get lost physically, or metaphorically in bureaucracy? In your home town and country.

Abraham is commanded to leave each of these – in reverse order, with the easiest first, and the place you feel most safe last. In terms of business the same lessons apply.

Igor Ansoff is famous for the Ansoff matrix.

Existing
Product
New/Modified
Product
Existing
Market
Penetration Product
Development
New/Modified
Market
Market
Development
Diversification

When you have lots of opportunities in your home market and your product is doing well the objective should be to increase sales with this product to this market. However when things start to change – perhaps most people in your current market already have your product – then you need to move outside your immediate comfort zone and look to a new product or a modification of your existing products. You need to be willing to take a risk. Failing to change is likely to lead to eventual corporate failure, as the market becomes totally saturated, and profit levels reduce as the only way to compete becomes price. Product enhancement gives you the choice to differentiate your product and maintain profitability. Leave you father’s house and try something new.

This also applies in many other circumstances. The recent phenomenon known as “boomerang kids” is not just a problem for parents having to cope financially with adult children returning to the nest, but also the children themselves. Although living at home can be comfortable and secure, it becomes difficult to move out when all your needs are being met and to become truly independent. It means that such children are less likely to be successful – until or unless they do leave home.

The next stage is when even product variations don’t work – as your current market sector is saturated. You need to look for new markets. In Biblical terms – Leave you family and friends and try something new. In business this means looking for new markets. These can be different industry sectors or geographies. Again, being scared of taking the risk will lead to failure – as your current customer base ceases to purchase your products in sufficient quantity for you to make profits.

Globally, many people are now in this stage of the cycle. Their opportunities in their home countries are poor – for various reasons, and emigration to another market promises a better chance in life. Historically this has often been the case – with emigrants being highly successful and also enriching the cultures and life in their new countries. In contrast, their compatriots who stayed at home often continue a cycle of poverty or lack of success. I believe that many governments see emigration as a threat – and I think that they are correct, as often emigrants are the very people who should be encouraged to stay as they are the innovators and the risk-takers within society. If emigration is a problem in a society it means that the society itself has problems, and perhaps the government should look to itself as to why people want to move. Conversely the antipathy to immigrants in the destination countries is also misplaced – as many immigrants contribute massively to their new homelands, especially when welcomed and encouraged to integrate into the new society.

The final stage is the most difficult and also may appear the riskiest. However if the markets (old and new) for your current product lines are stagnant then the only hope is to move into completely new areas – with new / enhanced product lines targeting new customers and markets. You need to diversify away from your home products, your home markets and move to a new area -i.e Leave the location you are now in and try something new. In fact this promises the best chance of all for success – as it allows you to capitalise on both current product lines and markets and also the new ones. Companies that manage to diversify into new markets are likely to grow at a much faster rate than their “stay-at-home” competitors. Of course how to manage a successful diversification programme is a different question – requiring research, planning and strong, thoughtful and innovative management. The willingness to try and to leave comfort zones should help prepare management for this stage – so that when the time comes, they are willing to take risks necessary to protect their organisations.

Only by being willing to change, and move away from your comfort zones can success be guaranteed. Do it right, and like Abraham, you can succeed and make a name for yourself.

© Arthur Weiss / AWARE, 2005-2010

Thoughts for 2008

February 5, 2007 Leave a comment
It may seem like we’ve only just started 2007 – after all it is still only February. However marketers should be thinking ahead, and it’s never too early to start. After all January 1st 2008 is less than 330 days away and the US presidential elections, taking place on November 4th, 2008 are under 650 days away.

So what can we expect for 2008 – which we should be planning for today!

1) There will be a US presidential election – and the winner will not be George Bush. It may be a Republican colleague – I’m not going to forecast who I think will win. Or it may be a Democrat. Whoever wins will want to show change – and will want to be seen as their own man or woman. (Yes – woman. As this election promises to be significant in that Hillary Clinton may become the Democrat nominee – meaning that for the first time, there will be no First Lady, just a First Man, to accompany the First Female President of the USA.)

So political change in the US is inevitable. This will have an impact on all aspects of life both in the US and the world.

2) In the UK, Tony Blair will be just a memory and history. He’s announced that he will be standing down this year. 2008 will be the year his successor will start making the changes that will gear up to the next UK general elections which must take place before June 2010. If Tony Blair’s successor fails to win hearts and minds, then they will not survive and it takes at least a year for this to happen. So 2008 will be the make or break year.

3) Globally, the Iraq war will still not be sorted out – and deaths from bombings and terrorism will continue. Whether the USA and UK will still be involved is less clear – although my bets are that both countries will still have forces in the country.

In fact, I suspect that the situation today in the Middle East will still be broadly the same. The Israel-Palestine conflict will still be a dominant factor – although I think that the leaders in both Israel and the Palestinian authority may be different. I’d like to say the same for Iran – but even though President Ahmadinijad (don’t you think this sounds a bit like “I’m a Dinner Jacket”) may be highly unpopular globally and even among many of the intellectuals in Teheran, he won’t be ousted unless the Mullahs and the masses turn against him.

I’d also like to see President Mugabe of Zimbabwe go. Again, this is unlikely – unless he dies of old age. I don’t see him stepping aside, despite the dire straights his country is now in. And Mugabe will continue to blame Britain and the West rather than accept that he has destroyed what was once a flourishing and successful economy.

4) In the information / computer world – Vista will become the dominant operating system, not due to its quality but purely due to inertia. People will be dithering in 2007, but by 2008 will feel that they need to upgrade their PCs – which will all come pre-installed with Vista. However there may be small changes.

It is possible that in the home market, people may start thinking about Macs – especially if Apple‘s marketing succeeds in emphasizing the Mac as a better computer for the home in contrast to the PC for the office. The iPod effect may help drive this, as well as the aspirational aspects of the new iPhone which will start being seen in people’s pockets. Meanwhile in the world of the web, many of the Web 2.0 applications will be seen as mainstream – possibly with a new killer application taking pole position. Google will, however, still be the dominant search engine although I believe that it will have lost share to others – both newcomers and perhaps Windows Live and Ask.

I’ve not mentioned other areas that I think will be important – the threat of climate change for example will lead to increased demands to control carbon emissions, and flying may start to be seen as a luxury if taxes increase to make airlines responsible for their carbon footprints (although I somewhat doubt this will come in by 2010). I think that predictions that 2007 will be the hottest year ever will, if they come true, lead to an international effort to prevent global warming. However unless China and India come on board not much will be done, so I feel that any major changes won’t occur in 2008. If they do, then the impact on economies will be “interesting“!

Finally terrorism will still terrify – increasingly, as the prospect of mega-terrorism comes to the fore, with terrorists gaining (or being prevented from gaining) nuclear or biological material. The war on terror will not be won until all countries perceive the threat equally and stamp down hard on this scourge. Currently many just play lip-service to the concept in the hope that by keeping their heads down they won’t get targetted. However that is not how the terrorists see them. They see them as soft and ripe for take-over, as that is the ultimate objective: to make the world follow their particular concept of God!

Moonwatching – Google goes out of this world!

July 20, 2005 Leave a comment

Just visited Google, and saw that today (20 July, 2005) is the 36th anniversary of man landing on the moon – the first extra-terrestial tourist walkabout.

Take a look at the moon map – and for another example of Google’s humour zoom in on the map (I can’t bring myself to call it ElGoog!). The result is really cheesy! (http://moon.google.com). (And of course this is another reason why Google is pre-eminent in the search engine world. Google is a great example of a company that encourages lateral thought – so that all staff think differently and rather than fall into a rut of mediocrity, continually try and come up with new ideas. Some may be oddball, some objectionable, but many will help enhance our web experiences. That is what marks a great company: a company that is satisfied with itself – while at the same time willing to push the frontiers of what is possible, without fear that eccentricities and failures will be penalised).

It seems strange to think that man first landed on the moon so long ago. I was still at school but remember the occasion vividly. It was an example of all that is best in mankind. Adventure, bravery, challenge, daring, excitement, fearlessness…. yes I could cover the whole A-Z! Yet by 1972 the dream was fading – and moon trips stopped.

The world today is completely different to that of 1969 with its hopes of peace, as symbolised by the One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind speech as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin disembarked from the lunar module. Just think about how different the world is today: no more cold war, the fall of the Soviet Union, medical advances that were dreams back in 1969, instant communication (mobile, Internet) – the average computer in 1969 was probably less powerful than the credit card sized calculator given away as a freebie at many of today’s trade shows. Yet – the promise of peace is still as elusive; the world may seem smaller, but the cold war was replaced with other ideologies that still separate us from recognising that we are all part of a global community living on the only planet we know that can support human life.

%d bloggers like this: