Is it better to Ask Forgiveness than Ask Permission?
I was at a SCORE meeting yesterday. One of the members, who is part of the marketing committee, had a great idea that would simplify and enhance the customer acquisition process.
Now the marketing committee has the authorization and the funds to make the change. SCORE is a group of experienced business people who have run successful enterprises. But, making a decision can still be problematic. Instead of being encouraged to execute his improvement, it was suggested that he talk to 4 more different organizations.
While we articulate risk and innovation, in many situations, people just are not sure. While it is important to ask, “what can go wrong?”, a question that should accompany that thought is “what is really the impact, if there is an issue?”
In many cases, the information that comes from the “doing” is more valuable than the time and effort spent on gathering information and asking permission.
Your company is making decisions that make sense… Right?
Interesting article in Time Magazine this week about Blockbuster, the video rental company. Here are a few excerpts….
When talking about Blockbuster’s innovation in the 1980’s, “Customers would pick an empty title case off a shelf and wait while a clerk hunted in a backroom to see if there were any copies left. Cook (the founder of Blockbuster) programmed computers to keep track of inventory and give him a daily report of what customers were renting. … That allowed Blockbuster to optimize its movie selection. Today it’s Retailing 101, but back then it was a revelation”
The article goes on to discuss decisions made by Blockbuster management that has led the company to bankruptcy. To summarize the situation, Stephen Gandel – the article’s author – quoted Clayton Christensen, a Harvard expert on change. Christensen noted, “Decisions that in other circumstances would have made sense, instead drove the company into the ground.”
Innovation can help create a billion dollar company; lack of innovation can move you toward bankruptcy. Yes, your company has survived… but you have limited resources. You can start changing your business processes today, or wait until 2011 or 2012. It’s your decision, but you never know when it may be too late.
I was watching the Bears-Packers game last night. Good to see a victory. Walked away with three key lessons learned.
First, have a plan. It was clear that the Bears had a game plan; aggressive defense, good special teams play, and don’t do something stupid on offense. Each of the coaches focused on the plan, and kept with it.
Second, use your key players where they are most effective. Aggressive defense by the line backers, Hester running back punts, even Cutler throwing hard and being mobile. Did a good job of using Peppers and some of the new acquisitions.
Lastly, take advantage of your competition. No one knew that the Packers would penalize themselves. But especially on the last drive, the Bears made it work for them.
What does this mean for your business? Have a plan and use the tools that are available to you. The playing field is changing, how have your marketing efforts been revised? Next, what players do you have, and how are you using them? We often hear, “we don’t have the resources!”. If you don’t, they can be acquired.
Today’s economic downturn has also impacted your competition. Maybe it’s time for a competitive “take –away”. Go after their customers. Many companies have reduced marketing and sales, thereby penalizing themselves.
Innovation is about creating a positive environment.
As a manager, when faced with an opportunity, do you ask “why?”, or “why not”? Which one you choose can mean the difference between innovating, or keeping the status quo and losing ground to your competitors.
When evaluating new opportunities, the first questions that many managers ask is “do we have the resources?” Assuming the answer is positive, the second question is “should we do it?”
However, at companies that foster an environment of innovation, the first question is “should we do it?” and the second question is “do we have the resources?”
This may seem silly, but it’s not. Innovation is about creating a positive environment. If people keep getting questioned “why?” or “do we have the resources?” every time they propose a new direction, they’ll stop asking.
And stop innovating.
Then, when a competitor comes out with some thing new, you’ll ask, why didn’t we think of that?