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October 21, 2013

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Posted by Rajesh K. Murthy (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:52 AM

O'Reilly- When something is commoditized, an adjacent thing becomes valuable [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Uy51k-x9MI]

As business leaders, we're faced with what often seem like endless opportunities to get out of the office and view our organizations from a fresh perspective. We attend retreats, conferences, and team-building days, just to name a few. These off-site gathering allow us to hear about the experiences of other executives.

One such executive is a veteran manager who was chosen as a fellow this past year at a prestigious business school. She has some extremely interesting reflections on what it takes for an established, long-serving company officer to stay innovative. Here are some of her insights, along with my additional comments.

First, know your customers. If you've seen the results of our sweeping survey, Engaging Digital Consumers, you're quite familiar with what we've been saying to our colleagues and clients alike: The digital world has empowered customers to such an extent that it's time to rewrite the playbook. The extent to which a company's consumer base can help it gain new insights has never been greater. That's why it's vital to make sure you have the best information-gathering tools at your disposal. But your organization should also be prepared to give your loyal customers something in return - be it a special deal on merchandise or a heads-up on an upcoming sale.

Today, there is also the need to "fight" technology-led commoditization. Commoditization is an interesting thing. It's indeed helpful and efficient for executives in sectors like retail and financial services. When you focus on technology-led customer engagement, however, sometimes you'll come to the conclusion that they feel as though technology separates your business from their interaction with the company. It's important, therefore, to add a human touch to your continuing business relationship.

The next pointer: Make sure your organization is the most efficient it can be at any size and scope. We all have dreams to build our enterprises into the most expansive on the planet. We also look to be proponents of creative disruption. Make certain that the larger your company becomes, the better its chances will be to transform the market. If you're a big company, go ahead and think like a small start-up. But use all of the advantages of your large scale to keep competitors at bay. Larger firms tend to implement new technologies and strategies more efficiently than the small ones.

Next, try to expand your inner circle. The longer we occupy our offices, the more removed we become from the day-to-day action in our laboratories and corporate campuses. We tend to surround ourselves with a small, loyal group of colleagues. Doing so can feel reassuring. But ask yourself if you're really getting all viewpoints when you assess a situation. Get out of the office and speak to the rank and file of employee at your company. You'll be happy you did when you start to hear an entirely new set of opinions and perspectives.

I've saved the best for last. "Done is better than perfect." I will be the first to admit that I'm guilty of obsessing about getting a service offering downright perfect before I meet with clients. But we live in a fast-paced world where aggressive competitors make the most of the additional time you take to pore over last minute delays and amendments.

If you're reasonably confident that you have a transformational service on your hands, then get it to market. Don't over obsess over dotting 'i's and crossing 't's. Beat your competitors to the punch. Then reflect and refine the service offering as necessary. You'll get more credit for being a bold presence in the market than hesitating in order to work out all of the offering's kinks.

I hope these insights come in handy. Remember: It's not how many management rules you memorize. It's what you put into practice.

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