January 5, 2006: Distribution Channel Commentary (DCC) #85

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TOPICS:

  1. THEMATIC QUOTES.
  2. THESE INVESTING GUIDELINES FOR ’06 AREN’T "DEEP SMARTS."
  3. MY NEW NANO-PANTS ARE GREAT -- ARE WE INNOVATING TOO?
  4. MY JANURARY 26TH "INNOVATION" TELE-SEMINAR GOES DEEP.
  5. DOES YOUR COMPANY COMPUTER SYSTEM ALLOW ENOUGH NET ACCESS?
  1. THEMATIC QUOTES

"The talk you hear...about adapting to change is not only stupid, it's...dangerous. The only way you can manage change is to create it. By the time you catch up to change, the competition is ahead of you." --- Peter Drucker

"It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem." --- G. K. Chesterton

"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm afraid of the old ones." --- John Cage

"To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom." --- Bertrand Russell

(Do you think this quote was inspired by this passage from the Bible: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10)? This passage has special meaning and memories for me that date back to 7th grade.)

"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" --- Dr. Robert Schuller

    2.    THESE INVESTING GUIDELINES FOR ’06 AREN’T "DEEP SMARTS."

A 12/27/05 article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, "A Cliché a Day Keeps Wall Street Losses Away", provided a bit of rationale for the following old saws:

  • Buy low, sell high and don’t follow the crowd
  • Sell in May and Go Away
  • Beware the Dead-Cat Bounce
  • Bulls and Bears Make Money, Pigs Get Slaughtered
  • Don’t Fight the Fed
  • Don’t Fight the Tape
  • Stocks Climb a Wall of Worry
  • Don’t Catch a Falling Knife
  • Buy the Rumor, Sell the News

The article went on to point out that these, and all rules of thumb in both investing and business management, are not sensitive to the current contextual environment. So, if you methodically adhere to them, you will do no better (or worse) in the long run than the market average. But, who wants to be "average"?

To outperform the markets or business competition on a consistent basis, we need "Deep Smarts". In a book of the same title by Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap, "deep smarts" is defined as a potent form of experienced-based wisdom. People who have it can quickly size up complex situations, recognize patterns that others don’t see, and make wise, seemingly intuitive, decisions that lead to good results. You can rent this advice on a part time basis, if you can judge who has real wisdom as opposed to the well-packaged pretenders.

The book goes on to point out that a lecture from a "deep smart" resource is not enough. The best way to transfer deep-smart wisdom is to have active guidance from the resource. An advisory board meeting with the right advisors is not enough; the advisors should attend working, operational meetings. If their fee is too high, draw their fee plus a risk premium, from the same gainsharing pool the management team gets paid from.

The deep-smart transfer is not enough. We also need superior execution of the better ideas, which – in service firms especially – requires all employees to be motivated stakeholders willing to do their regular job in addition to participating in change efforts. How do we start moving to a "high performance environment" that will allow change to happen? The quickest, most affordable solution for distributors is our DVD-based training program entitled: "High Performance Distribution Ideas for All". There’s lots of information on this product in the center of our home page at www.merrifield.com.

How will you upgrade your access to and use of "deep smarts" for the bigger business decisions that you make in 2006? Even if you got better, well-developed ideas for improving your business, how will your corporate culture support change any better than it has in the past? Shouldn’t we all aspire to upgrade both our corporate change initiatives and capability?

    3.    MY NEW NANO-PANTS ARE GREAT -- WHAT’S OUR COMPANY DOING?

For attending a casual party over the holidays, I broke out a new pair of very, traditional khaki pants – a real commodity that you can buy from any leading retail store – and, some guest accidentally spilled some red wine on them. Lo and behold, the wine rolled off the pants like water off a duck. It turns out that the pants are made of some new nanotechnology-based fiber that not only doesn’t stain, but also holds its crease better even though the cloth is 100% cotton. Someone is making big bucks off this invention!

Doesn’t it make us ask what our respective companies are doing in 2006 to develop "unique strategic insights" (using deep smarts) from which we can create new "unique value propositions" for our customers? For more on this subject and opportunity, please check out – if you haven’t already – our latest article #ed 1.14 at this link: http://www.merrifield.com/articles/1_14.asp.

    4.    MY JANURARY 26TH "INNOVATION" TELE-SEMINAR GOES DEEP.

Save this time slot on your calendar – Thursday, Jan 26th from 2:00 - 3:30pm (EDT) and go to http://www.mdm.com/conferences/merr.html to find out how you can register for a teleconference seminar for $199 for unlimited-at-the-location users. There will be two, 30-minute lectures with slides. Each lecture will be followed by, anonymous-if-you-would like, question-and-answer sessions.

If you have any hesitation about subscribing to this total value offering, you might think about whether you buy into the following assumptions or not. If you have not thought about them at all, sign up for the tele-seminar to find out what your most progressive competitors are working on.

  • All U.S. companies, especially those making distributing and retailing tangible products, need to reinvent value propositions and operational effectiveness increasingly.
  • The ability to both generate new ideas and to find competent (outsourcing) partners with which to execute those ideas is also increasing dramatically.
  • The art of innovation has progressed from a reactive, sporadic and accidental activity to a science and all types and sizes of businesses can implement formal "innovation management" systems. These "systems", in turn, will allow firms to affordably, proactively, and continuously reinvent themselves on a faster idea-to-cash cycle.
  • The biggest global firms have already been making "innovation management" a top priority and an increasing science, but the innovation imperative has not yet hit the radar screens of over 95% of small and medium size firms.
  • All companies that do not increase their formal capacity for "innovation management" by 2007 will start to fall behind the competitive pack and eventually be eaten in some way or another.
  • The journey from being a lean-n-mean, operational, too-numbers-driven business that only learns and adapts on a reactive, incremental basis to one that routinely makes proactive, next-level improvements is long, but not hard. A few, first, simple, fun steps will reduce the anxiety of this challenge and increase the self-fueling process.
    5.    DOES YOUR COMPANY COMPUTER SYSTEM ALLOW ENOUGH NET ACCESS?

Many companies allow minimum net access for their employees, because they fear:

  • Computer viruses will sneak in-house and cause havoc
  • Employees will surf and shop on company time
  • (fill in more blanks if you would like)

The problem is that exploding search technology, from the likes of Google and its imitators, is creating large living and dying edges to all firms informational value activity.

Want more food for thought? Google the product names and numbers for your most popular items to see: who are the sponsoring vendors? (From what distributor are they getting or drop shipping their goods?) What is your company’s Google advertising/PR search word strategy and experiments? You can do daily experiments with Google and budget exactly how much you want to pay as a maximum each day.

What additional information can you find about your products and their use? If you get too many hits, just keep adding "+" signs and additional words like article.

Go to www.wikipedia.com and type in "Johnny Cash" or any other celebrity or general topic that you might like to know a little bit more about. Who will start the equivalent of a wikipedia for your industry and get first positioning of all of the infomercials and sponsor ads?

Go to "local" on Google and type in: florist + my town, my state and see what pops up. Do it for taxicabs, haircuts, etc.

Now go to "froogle" and type in your most popular product to see who’s selling it with a listed price. While you are at it type in any product you might need like "boxer shorts" or "golden toe, over-the-calf socks".

Can you imagine what happens to newspaper ads and yellow pages when Google starts linking local froogle buys together? Go to eBay and type in your most popular items and see who is dumping the product for what reserve and auction price.

Why buy another how-to book on any subject? Why not just Google the topic, for example, "innovation management" + articles + "pdf". Then search more narrowly within that topic -- go to "images" at Google and type in "fuzzy front end" + innovation and see what pops up.

Once your best employees and customers get hooked on getting educated, real-time about whatever their itch is your company’s internet policy is in trouble. As a stop gap measure, put in a wireless network and tell employees to bring their lap tops to work with them or provide laptops or an allowance to employees who need them. The net’s informational value to everyone in your firm and ecosystem is exploding much faster than your system’s ability to accommodate it.

 

Until next time,

Bruce

 

 

January 5, 2006: Distribution Channel Commentary (DCC) #85