Revisiting: Who Moved My Cheese? Most of us are familiar with Dr. Spencer Johnson’s 1998 parable Who Moved My Cheese?. The book was written to provide career guidance to people in changing work scenarios. Today, those lessons apply as much or more to business leaders as to their past and present employees.
Remembering Typewriter Repairmen I’m dating myself again by recalling the painful times when we needed to call in IBM’s service technicians to repair our Selectric and Executive typewriters. Those urgent service calls were expensive and all too frequent for our aging workhorse equipment. Speaking of workhorses, typewriter repair men are now outnumbered by blacksmiths. Fortunately for IBM, they have they’ve historically been able to find new cheese in new places. Both IBM and I have gone beyond typewriters. I’m composing this on my Lenovo ThinkPad. The Big Blue nameplate is conspicuous by its absence as they cashed out and exited the commodity PC market.
IBM is one of only 71 remaining companies from the original Fortune 500 of 1955. Of those 71, most are in different businesses now. This means that 429 corporate giants have vanished from the list. The pace of change change continues to accelerate. How are businesses responding to the challenges of rapid change?
The Responders Playing with a pat hand is no longer an option. To aid in your thinking, I share this assortment of cheese seeking approaches that I’ve seen. These businesses have either found new ways to utilize their core competencies or developed new competencies to serve emerging or changing marketplaces demands.
- A manufacturer that previously produced ink for the printing industry has developed new specialty toners for laser and ink jet printers.
- An architectural firm is pursuing more small residential restoration and remodeling projects to ride out the new building lull.
- The owner of a predominantly General Motors auto mall responded by acquiring three foreign car franchises.
- One Chrysler dealer dropped the franchise to sell and service more affordable used cars that their customers are holding on to.
- A mechanical engineering firm whose phones suddenly stopped ringing hired us help them to implement a proactive sales process that has rebuilt their client base.
- A residential remodeling service company is working with us to develop a marketing campaign that targets institutional and association projects with funded budgets.
Reinvention and Innovation: What’s in it for you? If a giant like IBM can evolve, why can’t you? Is it time for your organization to discover new opportunities? Perhaps we can gain some insight from The Great One.
I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. – Wayne Gretzky
If your organization is struggling to figure out where your puck is going to be, my advise is to do so quickly. We continue to learn that he who hesitates is lost as…
Its not the big that eat the small. Its the fast that eat the slow.
What New Opportunities Are Outside of Your Box? So is it time for you do a better job of thinking outside the box? Innovation author Adam Hartung makes a semantic distinction on this concept. Adam advises instead to first step outside of your box. Then think. But its not that easy. Look no further than the 86% of the original Fortune 500 that have fallen off the list. Maintaining the status quo didn’t work for them.
A Word from Our Sponsor If day-to-day minutia of running a leaner organization or a lack of creative juices is preventing you from thinking strategically, help is available. It has been said that attempting to do strategic thinking on your own is like a dentist who attempts to drill his own tooth. Or perhaps its like the self-representing attorney who has a fool for a client. So I recommend getting an outside perspective when forming your strategy. Helping clients to discover new cheese is our bread and butter.