Posted in Customer Service, Future, Research, Strategy

What type of person are you?

At Ganador it is business as usual, and it is quite usual for us to tinker with our business model. (Regular readers knwo that I do not believe in a business plan (as most people know it), but that does not mean we don’t have a strategy and that we measure our progress accordingly.

As part of this process we are going to to intorduce some changes – but it is too early to talk about those.

In the meantime, we are following a process of innovation – applying ‘design thinking’ to our organisation (a service business) the same as brand creators (say Apple) would do for physical products.

This video links back to the source article that informs some of our intellectual property development. (Astute readers may start picking up where we are heading to, but that is OK 😉

The video expores 4 different types ‘learners’ or participants to the innovation process. As a smaller organisation, the same people must play different roles (not easy given natural preferences) but it helps being conscious of the stages and the various requirements.

Enjoy…

We thought it is interesting

Innovation as a Learning Process from Roger Shealy on Vimeo.

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Posted in Research, Risk Management, Strategy

Life and Death

Right now most retailers are worried about the emergence of new channels and the associated raise of social media as an additional / alternative marketing platform.

In truth, this is nothing to worry about – it is the cycle of life (and death) as we have known it for aeons. Whether it is a football team, a tree or a country – the cycle of life applies to everything and retail is no different.

This process can be illustrated by the typical lifecycle curve as per figure 1.

 

The emergence of the abovementioned trends has no doubt shortened a few lifecycles.

Strategy textbooks teach us that the traditional and ideal response would be for a business to use the strong cashflows from the mature stage to invest into growth categories/products or markets.

In this case, the business ‘jumps’ the curve. Figure 2 illustrates the process. The truth is that few businesses actually repeat this process repeatedly. (How many businesses can you think of that have reinvented themselves over many decades – compared to the number that have gone bust?

 

There is a third and scarier curve that we face: the cycle of death.(Figure 3.)

I indicate that there is a disruption that destroys the curve (and it can happen at any stage of the life cycle – not only at the end of the curve.)

And a changing climate is such a (potential) disruption.

We were doing some work in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast recently (nice work if you can get it, I know) and upon arrival at the airport we were informed of the “Ash Cloud.”

We ended up driving back to our hometown some 1200km and 14 hours away. And besides the inconvenience of having to arrange emergency accommodation for our 13yo, the effect was minimal.

You would argue that the economic effect was possibly even a net gain as people suddenly paid extra for accommodation, travel, cabs, meals etc.

But if you consider that cloud to be just one example of the adverse economic effect  of climate change and let’s imagine if that cloud hung around – permanently.

Let’s play a little what-if game here and maybe you can help me identify all the business that would go broke of Qantas stopped flying:

E.g. What would happen…

–        at Qantas?

–        The little coffee shop?

–        the cabbie?

–        The owner of the surrounding convention centres and hotels?

–        The suppliers to all of the above.

 

Earthquakes and ash-clouds and dying oceans will not respect the country borders.

Globalisation created an interconnected world in an attempt to lower the costs – and now it seems it was a zero sum game because all those costs we saved are now coming back to haunt us.

 

Here are a few thoughts from Paul Gildings (researcher and author): “The Earth is full”. Think about that for a moment.

It is easy to quote many scary statistics, but the truth is that it is almost as easy to quote the opposite. Most people cannot predict what they will have for breakfast, never mind the state of the ecology in 30 years’ time.

But let’s consider just a few facts that are relatively clear”

Based on current trajectories all fisheries in the world will collapse in 2048 – (30% already have.). You may be able to imagine a world without fish, but about 1Bn primarily live of fish. I don’t know whether you have thought about how these people, mostly from under-developed countries, but also including countries like Japan, are going to react when the disaster becomes obvious and imminent?

 

We are facing a Mad Max kinda future. A recent study has identified 9 planetary boundaries (climate, biodiversity, nitrogen levels etc.) which are critical to our long-term survival. The study found that 3 of those boundaries are already past the tipping point – i.e. beyond the point of no return.

You cannot separate the Ecology from the Economy. The US Senator Gaylord Nelson remarked that: “The Economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Environment, not the other way around.”

Here is a picture to that will clear your sinuses:

Imagine the Earth is a pool of Capital. It is finite of course. We cannot make more ‘planet’ even if we wanted to and no matter what you smoke, that won’t change.

Human beings live off the interest that this source of capital generates: that is our sole source of income.

We are currently living at 140% of our capacity. If we take 2008 as our base year, that means that come 25 September 2009, we have spent all our money.

We then proceed to draw from our capital until the end of the year – when the next batch of interest becomes available.

  • What happens in 2010?
  • And what happens to the total amount of interest we had available?
  • What happens in 2011?

Change is sudden and non-linear. Until the day before you run out of money – everything will still seem OK. That is why it is so hard for people to see what is happening.

With Population Growth at 0.8% and GDP Growth at 2.5% and Efficiency Improvements at 1.2 % (all current numbers) – it takes us to a Planet at 500% of capacity by 2050 (and 2x capacity in 2030.)

Does that scare you?

Don’t worry; it won’t happen because it can’t physically happen.

A dam can be 100% full or even 120% full, but it can’t be 200% full because then there is no dam. As Australians we should, tragically, be able to relate to that.

This is Australia, so you won’t be offended if I talk about our BIG CONSUMPTION HANGOVER – the cause of which is pretty evident, particularly in the developed countries:

  • In the US the Average CEO wage is 500x the minimum wage.
  • A Hummer is bigger than 2 shacks in Soweto that would house maybe a dozen people.

I am not a climate change advocate. In fact, I probably lean more towards the sceptical side if you want to know. But as you will see shortly, it does not actually matter which way you lean, there is a massive disruption on the way.

Human beings are very good at filtering out information that does not fit neatly into our vision of the world. “We can’t cope otherwise,” says James Glieck, author of books about chaos theory.

I try to resist that. I understand, and so should you that: everything is just probability. There is no certainty. I cannot predict the future. Scientists cannot predict how much it will rain while it is raining, never mind the likelihood or impact of Climate Change.

What scares me most is that if it is not climate change that will cause the big disruption, then it is us trying to deal with it. I don’t purport to know all there is to know, but I am willing to lay very large bets that Carbon Tax is just the beginning.

Now, let’s talk some more about Facebook and Twitter.

Or we could talk about whether your business is built to deal with real disruption.

Posted in Future

Into the future

I follow the writings of a futurist, and he identified the following list of words as describing the trends we are facing.

Anxiety, Bifurcation, Contagion, Debt, Euro, Frugal, Greece, Hope, Inflation, Juvenoia, Kaput, Locavore, Marginal, Nostalgia, Ostalgia, Payoff, Quality, Regulation, Simplicity, Thrift, Unemployment, Volatile, Weisure, Xenophobia, Yearning, Zen mail.

I suppose one can study these words, some of them a bit wanky if you ask me, but are important indicators nevertheless.

Understanding and agreeing/disagreeing with these trends is one possible response.

But for me the more important and more interesting question is whether your business has a mechanism in place to:

  1. Monitor/ identify the trends (collect the info)
  2. Consider the possible trends
  3. Respond to the trends and evaluate your response

Some of these trends will continue – and may have an impact on how we do business. Other trends will fizzle away.

The actual trend is not that important. What is important is whether you are equipped to spot it – and deal with it.

So, how are you dealing with the future?

Dennis

PS: Just back from my sojourn to NZ. I will now figure out how to best share the presentation & content with y’all. Stay tuned by subscribing to the newsletter for access – however that will be arranged.

 

PPS: And happy birthday to LAURAINE

Posted in Future, General, Productivity, Strategy

Just get out my $%#ng# way

The Wollongong and Shellharbour councils had been disbanded a few years ago due to gross incompetence and the first elections in some time to create newly elected councils are in the ‘promise-the-world-until-you-are-in-power’ phase. Occasionally I catch a bit of this dribble on the local ABC radio and the papers.

Coincidentally, BlueScope has recently announced the retrenchment of 1000 workers.

The result is predictable. Every candidate is promising job-creation for the Illawarra. There is plenty of rhetoric about how every candidate will lobby, cajole, convince, and empower the AAA, the BBB, the ZYX Federation, Council, Association, Alliance et al to create jobs in the Illawarra.

I never swear (badly) on this blog. But if there is anything that would make me break that rule then it is this topic.

The ONLY people who can actually create jobs are ENTREPRENEURS.

All of the aforementioned and most other organisations know how to spend money researching and talking about it, but they cannot ACTUALLY create jobs.

Just entrepreneurs can.

(On a side note: It is this kind of delusional thinking that led Governments to bail out failing companies by transferring their debt to the citizens. They are playing God in the economic sphere instead of just getting out of the way.)

Whilst the BlueScope retrenchments will create heartbreak on the individual level, and I do not want to diminish their pain, there are a few other perspectives to consider:

  • I do wonder if the unions, who have insisted on 5% increases year on year on year on year take any responsibility for making BlueSope internationally uncompetitive?
  • I wonder if the proponents of a minimum wage accept any responsibility for making Australia uncompetitive?
  • I wonder if the ‘workers’ who seem to focus on their ‘entitlements’ have thought about their obligations?
  • I wonder if politicians and workers have ever thought about the PAIN and the RESPONSIBILITY that the entrepreneur feels when they go about creating those jobs that everyone seems to demand – until they have them; only to then complain how it is not good enough.

In the business climate that exists in Australia, I certainly don’t want to be an employer. I find it hard to stomach the culture of entitlement from workers and the oppressive legislative regime.

The argument that we won’t allow slave labour in Australia is a furphy rolled out by anti-capitalist, anti-entrepreneurial sorts as a scare tactic. I am willing to put a lot of money on the fact that the market-rate for wages would be not very dissimilar to what it is now. The difference is that the current regime adds additional responsibilities of the employer that significantly increases the cost of employment. And in addition, the death kiss is the concomitant, increasing inflexibility that becomes part of your business with every additional employee.

I realise it may hard for people to imagine the alternative if you are raised in the current regime, but consider a few examples:

  • What is the rationale for a government legislate that the EMPLOYER (in my case the individual ME) should pay a nominated superannuation fee and NOT put that obligation on the individual? Why must the employer be responsible for the prudent financial management of your retirement – and not the employee?
  • Why must the employer pay the taxes and not the employee?
  • Why can’t the employee be expected to insure themselves against accidents?

I think the point is made.

FIXING this problem is important.

There are two considerations:

Firstly, climate change proponents are probably prone to exaggeration (who really knows) – but if they are even half-right, we will be living in a shit-hole in a few decades.

The bottom-line of the climate change debate is this: GROWTH as we know it is over. The world cannot support growth at the rate that it has grown in the past. (Jeff Jarvis wrote an interesting post on the “jobless future”.)

Secondly, I believe we are migrating to a new economic structure. I don’t (and no one really does) know what it will look like.

I think that will be an environment where only the nimble and flexible will survive.

I think companies will be smaller – with many more solo businesses.

But what I know is that Australian business environment is not future-proof. And THAT will be the single biggest factor limiting Australia’ survival and our place in the world economic-pecking order.

The culture we have harks back to an industrial era where ‘industrial relations’ were probably necessary. But in the world we live in now, the same principles don’t apply. Workers in that era were different. The modern era means:

  • Workers can communicate instantly with each other and establish what is fair and what is unfair.
  • Workers are mobile and can move their skills anywhere at anytime.
  • The balance of power (in the age of Intellectual Property) lies with the employee – not the employer.
  • Employees can and do take responsibility for their own training because the skills required for economic success are not dictated (or resourced and controlled) by employers.

It just does not make sense to punish entrepreneurs with a restrictive employment regime when exploitation is not viable or available anyway.

If wannabe councillors/ politicians want to really help, they should get out of the way. I am not advocating anarchy or that businesses or entrepreneur are above the law.

What I AM asking governments/councils to do is change their attitudes. The prevailing approach (apparently entrenched in the culture of these organisations) is to look at every business, at every attempt to develop or grow something from the perspective of ‘what is wrong with this proposal.’

If they could change their approach to ‘how can we help make it happen’ then the entrepreneurs have all the help they need. Real entrepreneurs can make anything happen (e.g. raising capital when rates are not favourable) but they can’t break the law and these politicians ARE the law.

Such an attitude shift would be a big challenge in itself, but that is all we require.

Thank you. Sorry for the rant. Let’s save Australia.

Posted in Branding, eTailing, Future, Management

A really QR butt, and it is ok to look

QR codes (Quick Response codes) are growing rapidly in terms of adoption for marketing purposes.

QR codes use proprietary technology (a Toyota subsidiary) but they have elected not exercise copyright. Microsoft has created an equivalent product.

Just like barcodes contain information about a product, the QR code can contain information. But because the Barcodes are one dimensional and QR codes are two dimensional, the type and amount of information is vastly increased.

There are various types of equipment that can scan a QR code, but its growth is fuelled by a range of apps that can be downloaded to your smart phone.

Typically it can be printed on anything:

Marketing collateral, posters, dockets, products and even on bums.

(In the image above, the ladies are sponsored by Betfair, and by snapping the QR code on their bums, you will be directed to the sponsor’s website. Sourced from dailytelgraph.co.uk)

 

QR Codes could link to:

  • Installation instructions
  • Competition entry forms
  • Directions to your business
  • Recommendations for complementary products and services
  • Free mp3 or video downloads
  • Customer feedback forms

 

Why don’t you try it?

You need to download a QR app to your smart phone.

I use Red Laser (on Android) which is actually a scanner that also compares prices on the fly. (For a video that shows how Red Laser works – and it is a bit scary for retailers – have a look at this video.)

 

You will note that it actually takes you to a mobile-optimised version of the website.

There is a new service that optimises your site for free (and there is a premium version available too).

To create your own QR code, you can use goo.gl (the url shortener) or simply search for QR code generators.

Ok, that should keep you busy for the next 30 minutes…

Enjoy

(And let me know what you think in the comments below.)

 

Dennis

PS: I am thinking I might do a special feature on QR codes in the next issue of my newsletter. If you think it will be useful let me know (and cast your vote by subscribing in the meantime.)

Posted in eTailing, Future, Shopper Marketing, Strategy

The Red Laser App

Retail is getting tougher and tougher.

Shopping is getting easier and easier.

I have become aware of Red Laser some time ago and have tried it out.

It is a little bit scary.

 

 

 

 

I like Red Laser for its ability to also scan QR codes. (Post about that to follow.)

Posted in Future, General, Personal Development

The way out

If you own a tobacconist you’d worry about government regulation. If you run a pub or club you will be worried about anti-pokies segment and anti-smoking sentiment.

If you own a service station, you’d be worried about alternative energy. If you own a hamburger joint or a pizza shop you are worried about healthy eating habits.

If you own a bookshop, shoe shop, fashion store – or almost any other type of retail outlet, you’d be worried about the internet.

In fact, even small manufacturers probably don’t realise that 3D printing is going to send many of them broke quicksmart.

But there is a way out.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a wimp until he started lifting weights and Michael Dell was a dishwasher when he was working on selling his first PC. Bill Gates was a nerd programming software for traffic lights until he sold the first DOS license to IBM and Ray Kroc was a travelling salesman until he opened his second McDonalds.

Abraham Lincoln ran a general store before he eventually entered politics and John Travolta was a waiter until he cracked his first audition. Rod Stewart was a grave digger and Jerry Seinfeld sold light bulbs by phone. Author Stephen King was a janitor when he had the idea for his breakthrough novel Carrie.

Who you are today and what you are doing today has absolutely no relevance to who you may become.

And it is true: one store can readily become a chain just as easily as a chain can become one store. Being broke can be great training for being rich.

But these stories are not about dreams coming true.

In each and every case, the person actually DID something.  (Sold a PC, wrote a novel, auditioned – or whatever.)

And that, dear friend, has always been and will always be the difference between success and failure: the act of executing is how dreams are made real.

Your current problems could disappear overnight, or it may take a while longer.

But the only certainty is that nothing will happen if you don’t do something about it.

What are you going to do next?

Dennis

PS: One of the things you can do is to attend the Retail Conference in Melbourne (Sep 2011) and tap into the ideas and the solutions on show. Get your special discount code here.

 

PPS: Subscribe to ReadThinkLearnLaugh for the next issue about ‘raising the bar’ in retail. (Previous issue HERE – no subscription required.)

 

 

Posted in eTailing, Future

Is this the future?

I don’t really think that this type of feature will become part of mainstream retail. 

I think it will be part of concept stores and it will/may become part of an extended online experience.

It is pretty snazzy.

It is RELEVANT because we need to know what physical stores need to do to compete and to raise the bar of 3D Retail.

But it does not matter what I think – what do you think?

adiVerse Cannes promotion from Start JudgeGill on Vimeo.

 

AND PS: If you do not know what 3D retail is all about, subscribe on the site to our newsletter and I will let you in to the secret…

Posted in Marketing, Research

A simple research solution

In a previous post, a commenter wrote about how hard it is to solicit customer feedback. Here is a quick and dirty solution. It works well when asking one question at a time.

If you ran a pizza restaurant and you are thinking about changing the menu to add a new product and must choose between Ribs or Pasta or Sandwiches.

Simply put 3 or 4 jars on the counter – labelled according to the 3 options, with a bowl of beans (or whatever) that customers can drop in the jar. (Or one jar with differently coloured beans.)

A small sign behind the jars may read something like this:

We are thinking of expanding the menu.

Tell us which item you would like us to add by dropping a bean in the jar.

Empty the jars daily – because the psychological principle of ‘social proof’ may influence the outcome as people vote for the more popular item because it appears popular with other people.

A critical, ongoing requirement for success in business is that you are solving someone’s needs/ problems. If you insist on selling pizzas because you like pizzas or because you’ve always sold pizzas, you are set on the road to ruin –

and THIS is the bigger issue to be aware of