Big Picture, Simple Execution, Strong Vision

January 21, 2009

20070514-toyota-logoToyota may move to the number 1 automaker in the world in 2009, replacing GM.  They did this by continuing to see the big picture, work to sell globally, and produce cars that met or exceeded customer demands.  They didn’t use any crazy schemes, remarkable innovations, or cut throat marketing.

Early in its history, Google became the most popular search engine, moving past Yahoo.  They did this by creating a faster, more accurate search engine than we had seen before.  And though this takes a lot of research and innovative technology, it is basically just offering a service that people needed; one that was easier to use.

My point here is that a company does not have to execute any major, outside the box, strategy to succeed.  The most successful, long lasting companies in the world have done one thing consistently: Give customers what they need/want.  Whether it’s Google, Toyota, Apple, FedEx, IBM, or your small business.

So what does this mean for you?

Well, right now it means simplifying your vision to get through the recession.  It means concentrating on one or two things that you do well, and building on them.  Define what your customers need from you and give it to them, no questions asked.  If you do this, you’ll keep clients, it’s as simple as that.

In the future, it means establishing a set of core principles or values that you are going to stick to.  If you believe in offering the latest technology enhancements to your products, don’t cut corners or your customers will call you out on it.  If you believe in following up on your sales with superior service and maintenance, don’t hire weak support staff.  Look at the big picture, see what you need to do to succeed, and do it.  You’ll get in more trouble and take on greater risk by changing philosophies, changing industries, or changing strategies unnecessarily.

And this same idea that works in the business world can work for Barack Obama.

Dear President Obama,

Congratulations, you’ve made it.  Time to get to work.  You’re running the show and the people expect certain things from you.  So make the government work for us, and start to execute the things you’ve promised.  If you give us what you said you’d give us, we’ll love you for it.  If you carry out as we expect, the world can move forward.  Like a strong company, this country will only work with clear vision and leadership, core values and principles, and simple, straightforward execution.

Sometimes innovation comes from doing what’s right, and what is needed.

Signed,
Zach Heller, “Be Innovation”

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March Madness

June 17, 2008

Success is not a winner take all game.  It’s not division 1 college basketball. You see, in division 1 college basketball, there are very few, if not only one winner.  It doesn’t matter how good your season was, it will almost certainly end in a loss.  The only teams that end the year with a win are the national champs, the winner of the NIT Tournament, and a few terrible teams that don’t even qualify for their conference tournaments.  It is the sport with the fewest winners at the end of the year, the ultimate test.

The point is, the business world is not like that.  In fact, when the economy is working like it should, and businesses are acting responsibly, it should work exactly the opposite.  There is room for success for all companies.  Sure competition is important, and there is only so much market share to go around in certain industries.  But you can always carve out your niche and achieve the type of success that you want without destroying everyone around you.

I am not trying to kill the competitive drive inside each one of us.  All I am saying is that there is a point when people can become hyper-competitive and lose the point of starting a business in the first place.  We should not try to achieve total domination of a market, we should try to achieve something that helps your customers.

Find the part of the market that fits your company’s strategies and go after it.  Once you have it, you can extend your offerings or marketing strategy to chip away at other segments of the market.  That is how to grow a business and that is the mindset that will lead to success.  Ridding yourself of that winner take all mentality will open you up to collaboration, outside help, and joint ventures that will lead to greater successes in business and in life.