By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth
Today’s post was inspired by a witty piece authored by Wally Bock on the topic of fads. If you’re not familiar with Wally’s work, I’d recommend checking him out on a regular basis…When you looked beyond the humor, Wally made some great points about the impact (or lack thereof) of the latest fads, trends, business theories, gimmicks, concepts conveyed in business books, etc. Trends have a significant impact on business. Does your business exploit trends or do they exploit your business? What was the latest fad chased or trend adopted by your business? Why did your management team jump on the band wagon? Has the trend or fad generated an increase in revenue or gains in efficiency and/or productivity? In today’s blog post I’ll examine the impact trends can have on your business.
Let me also point out that trends and fads don’t necessarily constitute innovation. In fact most often the organizations that demonstrate a “heard mentality” when rushing to adopt the latest trends are the farthest thing away from being innovative. The result is that they will likely experience little more than yet another in a long line of great adventures that ended in frustration due to the time wasted and the investment squandered. The reality is that many businesses are quick to recognize great ideas, but they often have no plan for how to successfully integrate them into their business model.
My advice to you is not to let your business get caught up in trends and fads, at least not without some initial analysis being conducted to determine the likelihood of success. Failed initiatives are costly at several levels. Aside from being costly, a flawed execution can cast doubt on management credibility, have a negative impact on morale, taint the brand, adversely affect external relationships and cause a variety of other problems for your business.
Every sound business initiative begins with a solid strategic plan. However while most anyone can cobble together a high level strategic plan, very few can author a strategy that can be successfully implemented. In order for your enterprise to turn a trend or fad into a monetizing and/or value creating event you should develop a strategic plan that attempts to measure the idea against the following 15 elements:
1. The trend or fad should be in alignment with the overall vision and mission of the enterprise.
2. If the initiative doesn’t provide a unique competitive advantage it should at least bring you closer to an even playing field.
3. Any new project should preferably add value to existing initiatives, and if not, it should show a significant enough return on investment to justify the dilutive effect of not keeping the main thing the main thing.
4. Put the idea through a risk/reward and cost/benefit analysis.
5. Whether the new initiative is intended for your organization, vendors, suppliers, partners or customers it must easy to use. Usability drives adoptability, and therefore it pays to keep things simple.
6. Just because an idea sounds good doesn’t mean it is You should endeavor to validate proof of concept based upon detailed, credible research.
7. Nothing is without risk, and when you think something is without risk that is when you’re most likely to end-up in trouble. All initiatives should include detailed risk management provisions.
8. Adopting a trend or fad should be based upon solid business logic that drives corresponding financial engineering and modeling. Be careful of high level, pie-in-the-sky projections.
9. Any new initiative should contain accountability provisions. Every task should be assigned and managed according to a plan and in the light of day.
10. Any trend being adopted must be measurable. Deliverables, benchmarks, deadlines, and success metrics must be incorporated into the plan.
11. It must be detailed and deliverable on a schedule. The initiative should have a beginning, middle and end.
12. Strategic initiatives must not be disparate systems, but integrated solutions that eliminate redundancies, and build in tactical leverage points.
13. It must contain a road-map for versioning and evolution that is in alignment with other strategic initiatives and the overall corporate mission.
14. A successful initiative cannot remain in a strategic planning state. It must be actionable through tactical implementation.
15. Senior leadership must champion any new initiative. If someone at the C-suite level is against the new initiative it will likely die on the cutting-room floor.
The bottom line is that new ideas are beautiful things. Properly implemented, capitalizing on trends can keep business from stagnating and cause growth and evolution. Just follow the 15 rules above and stay away from being an agent for change for the sake of change.