October 5, 2005: Distribution Channel Commentary (DCC) # 81

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TOPICS:

  1. THEMATIC QUOTES (MORE ON "INNOVATION").
  2. REARRANGING INTER-CONNECTED MIND FURNITURE.
  3. 33 HYPOTHESESES FOR WHY PEOPLE RESIST CHANGE.
  4. HELPING EMPLOYEES TO QUIT SMOKING (AND OTHER WELLNESS HABITS).
  5. DON’T CHANGE, SWAP ASSETS LIKE TESCO AND CARREFORE ARE DOING.
  6. THE OPTIMIST’S THEOREM ILLUSTRTATED BY USED BOOKS.
  7. INTERESTING WEB SITE WWW.RATEBEER.COM.
  1. THEMATIC QUOTES (MORE ON "INNOVATION").

Regular readers may detect a recent pattern; this is the fourth commentary with the theme of "innovation." New readers might want to skim through DCC’s #-ed 78-80 for a better understanding on this topic area. Here are this week’s quotes:

Ideas are cheap, but the right ones can be extremely valuable. Execution can be very expensive and dangerous if not done well. Why do most people – when confronted with change – resist?
Bruce Merrifield 10-5-05 (Should I be getting into the quotation business?)

"In times of change, learners will inherit the earth, while knowers will be perfectly equipped to live in a world that no longer exists."           
(a paraphrasing of a quote by) Eric Hoffer

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn."
Alvin Toffler

"Who will bell the cat?"
William Langland, English poet (1332-1400) from "The Vision of Piers Plowman"

"People arrive (at the common ground conference) curious, expectant, eager, mystified, open – and anxious…no person has the whole…each discovery brings heightened anxiety and release of energy….gradually the realization sinks in that this – all of it – constitutes a mutual portrait of our world. It is complex, interconnected, hopeless, hopeful, unmanageable, inescapable. At the end, most groups fall speechless. My word for it is 'awe'.       
     They start a dialogue with peers on what they are doing now and what they wish to do in the future…the anxiety becomes pure energy. We are moving toward renewal. We have touched down on common ground."
Marvin Weisbord (author of "Discovering Common Ground")

(People who help make decisions about the future of their organization) "learn to think about the organization in a new ways, to speak out when they have an opinion, to deal with conflict within the team, to survive battles with management, to communicate with their peers, to be creative, to read, to make presentations, to write, to participate. In a word, they become citizens. Active, powerful, well-informed, conscientious citizens bent on improving the system in which they live and work."
William Pasmore (author of "Creating Strategic Change")

    2.    REARRANGING INTER-CONNECTED MIND FURNITURE.

John Kotter is a veteran Harvard Business School professor who has spent his career researching and writing about "change management". For getting a workforce to change, he uses the analogy of re-arranging inter-connected, office furniture. First, he asks us to imagine re-arranging our office furniture and wall hangings. Creating change in any system of inanimate, independent parts is not difficult. But, in a second scenario he asks us to imagine rearranging our office with every movable piece having multiple steel cables and strong rubber bands attached to other objects in the room. This interconnected challenge is analogous to the way human brains are organized.

When we re-engineer company processes, policies and incentive plans to help us accomplish an innovative vision, all of the employee brains affected by these structural changes will have resistance for many different reasons.

  • How many reasons? Check the "33 hypotheses" in the next topic below.
  • What’s the change management solution? We have to involve all of the employees who will be affected by change in a lengthy, education and dialogue process that will actually start to change their inner mental landscape.

Here’s the basic, primary challenge for every service firm in America, especially every distribution location. Why not have 5 to 8 service metrics that add up to an explicit, measurable definition of what "service excellence" is for each niche and strata of customers that the company is targeting?

To achieve consistent, perfect, unconditionally guaranteed levels of service the processes, etc. of a service firm will have to be changed. This is such a huge, albeit basic, challenge for service firms that 95% of all locations aren’t doing it. If they could, they would, but they aren’t.

But, there is huge hope. Our massive, transformational, video-based, educational system entitled – "High Performance Distribution Ideas for All"- is the change-agent-in-a-box solution. It’s almost for free from our many "resellers" (it's easy to become a reseller), and it's unconditionally guaranteed for a free, 30-day period. There is tons of information about this product behind the links in the center of our home page at www.merrifield.com. "Innovation" should start with basic service excellence in any service firm, so what are you waiting for?

    3.    33 HYPOTHESES FOR WHY PEOPLE RESIST CHANGE.

The bigger the change, the bigger the potential payoff and the bigger the collective resistance from all people who will be affected. Because the reasons for resistance will vary with each person, it takes a lot of education to convert enough objectionable resistance with vision-pull motivation to get the majority moving in the right direction.

Below is a URL for a document that lists James O’Toole’s "33 hypotheses for why people resist change" along with some ideas for how to sell change through education and sensitivity to why people conform. Hopefully an interesting read. http://www.bestpracticehelp.com/Resistance%20is%20Futile.pdf.

    4.    HELPING EMPLOYEES TO QUIT SMOKING (AND OTHER WELLNESS HABITS)

Regular readers of these DCCs know that I have weighed in on how to use health savings accounts as an additional aspect of creating a high performance service environment AND to curb soaring, health insurance costs. (See articles 5.15, 5.16, 5.17, 5.18, and 5.19 at www.merrifield.com)

To tie resistance to innovative change to wellness habits here are a few key questions:

  • If health is the first wealth, and we all know what good health habits and benefits are, why don’t more of us just change?
  • Smokers, in particular, really know the financial and health costs of smoking – 70% of them try to quit every year, and they jack health insurance costs for companies way up. What can companies do to help their smoking employees to quit?

Two great, related articles on how to help employees quit smoking were in the 10-3-05 issue of USA Today in the "Life" section. Here are the links to those articles for you to print, share and discuss with your smoker employees. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-10-02-quit-smoking-cover_x.htm

(main article) http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-10-02-smokers-quitting_x.htm (tips for how to quit smoking. This process would work for changing any bad personal or corporate habit.)

  1. DON’T CHANGE, SWAP ASSETS LIKE TESCO AND CARREFORE ARE DOING.

Tesco, the UK grocery store giant, and Carrefore, the inventor the "hypermarche" in France, are two continually innovating companies within the distribution channel world. Their latest innovation is to swap under-performing assets where the other is strong. Two partial competitors are creating win-win economics. For more on this story here is a link: http://www.newsday.com/business/nationworld/wire/sns-ap-britain-tesco-carrefour,0,7065738.story?coll=sns-ap-business-headlines.

I would assume that two competitive distribution chains could get together and find cities in which they both have locations where one has the #1 or #2 best market profitability share position and the other is flailing. Why don’t they trade loser branches to each other to be consolidated into the stronger one? Both win by shutting down excess capacity and competition.

  1. THE OPTIMIST’S THEOREM ILLUSTRTATED BY USED BOOKS.
  2. ,

An optimist might look at today’s hyper-competitive, fast-changing and internet-enabled world and come up with the following formula:

NEW CHALLENGES

+ NEW CAPABILITIES

+ NEW APPROACHES

_____________________

= NEW OPPORTUNITIES

I had this formula in mind when I read a recent article about how publishers and authors are upset about the burgeoning on-line sales of used books. Their theory being that if the used books were not so easily visible and cheaply available, then consumers would buy a new copy of the book which would generate more profits and royalties.

The traditional used book stores are also getting hammered by legions of hobbyist who have set up used book warehouses in their garages. They sell through places like Amazon.com with seamless internet commerce software for free! I’ve bought a number of used books at Amazon.com with my "buy it with one click" button for as much as 80% off the list price of buying a new copy of the book.

The big opportunities for using information technology in mature industries is using web-based software to create new types of channel partnerships and economies as Amazon has done. What are we doing with web-based software to provide breakthrough service value for our customers?

Here’s the URL for the New York Times article on what’s going on in used books: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/29/books/29book.html.

  1. INTERESTING WEB SITE WWW.RATEBEER.COM.

I’m a very occasional, one-beer drinker when I dine out. So, I’m both beguiled but baffled by the number of craft beers that have become available in our consumptive world. The "rate beer" site offers rankings of the best tasting beers in the world, as well as the ones that might be available at stores and restaurants. If you share my desire and confusion for one great beer once in awhile, you might check out this site.

 

 

That’s all for this edition!

Bruce

Bruce@merrifield.com

919-933-7474

Commentary # 81