Shift your par­a­digms

To de­velop a busi­ness over time, be pre­pared to shift your par­a­digms in or­der to be in­no­va­tive, cre­ative and com­pet­i­tive, says Brian H Mered­ith.

NZ Business - - MARKETING MAESTRO - Brian Mered­ith is CEO of The Mar­ket­ing Bureau. Email brian@the­mar­ket­ing­bu­reau.co.nz

A young man pur­chased a brand new, soft top, red sports car. On the first Sun­day of his own­er­ship, the sky was blue, the day was warm and he de­cided to take her for a spin in the coun­try (won­der why men call cars “her”?).

He was on a for­est road, ap­proach­ing a bend and a car came hurtling around in the other di­rec­tion and on the wrong side of the road. As it passed him just inches away the woman driver yelled to him “Pig!”

“OMG!” he thought. “Why would she call me that? I was on the right side of the road and SHE was on the wrong side of the road!” He drove into the bend. And ran into the pig. The par­a­digm? A woman driver par­a­digm. And he was wrong. He thought she was driv­ing er­rat­i­cally and she was sim­ply try­ing to warn him of a risk.

Life is full of par­a­digms. Mil­lions of them. In fact, ev­ery as­pect and ev­ery de­tail of our lives are filled with par­a­digms. A par­a­digm is, in ef­fect, a men­tal tem­plate which al­lows us to sort stuff out in our minds with­out get­ting con­fused.

For ex­am­ple, our car par­a­digm says that a car has four wheels, an in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine, a steer­ing wheel, gear­box, seats, etc. So when some­one says “car” we know ex­actly what they mean.

But what if the car didn’t have four wheels? Didn’t have an in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine? Had no steer­ing wheel? Then most of us would think that this did not con­sti­tute a car.

So, why are par­a­digms im­por­tant in busi­ness?

Well, the pri­mary rea­son is that, as we de­velop our busi­nesses over time we need to be pre­pared to shift par­a­digms in or­der to be in­no­va­tive, cre­ative and com­pet­i­tive.

How many type­writer man­u­fac­tur­ers are still in busi­ness? And how many of them were at the lead­ing edge of de­vel­op­ing word pro­cess­ing ap­pli­ca­tions? The an­swer is, largely, none. Type­writer man­u­fac­tur­ers were locked into the type­writer par­a­digm and failed to shift that par­a­digm which was, in fact, done in a to­tally dif­fer­ent place and space. The re­sult was the death of the type­writer and the busi­nesses that pro­duced them.

And what if drills are re­placed by a sim­ple laser de­vice that is more ac­cu­rate than a drill, qui­eter than a drill, safer that a drill and cleaner than a drill? Avail­able in your DIY store for just $29.95? Is this likely to be de­vel­oped by a drill man­u­fac­turer? Or a laser tech­nol­ogy com­pany?

Re­mem­ber tele­vi­sions? Sure you do and most of us still have one. But for how much longer? The par­a­digm is be­ing shifted, but not by the TV man­u­fac­tur­ers or broad­cast­ers or pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies. It’s a whole range of other spe­cial­ist sec­tors that are head­ing down a num­ber of tracks that will cause tele­vi­sions to be ob­so­lete in the very near fu­ture.

Shift­ing of par­a­digms means, apart from any­thing else, a con­cen­tra­tion on “what” be­fore “how”. And then “how” fol­lows – in­no­va­tively, cre­atively and ex­cit­ingly.

And bank tell­ers? Yes, they still ex­ist but to a much lesser ex­tent than they did and their role and num­bers are de­clin­ing. Why? Be­cause the par­a­digm of bank ser­vice is chang­ing dra­mat­i­cally and, like tele­vi­sions, tell­ers are likely to be ex­tinct be­fore too much longer.

So yes, of course it’s im­por­tant for your busi­ness to en­sure that its cur­rent prod­uct or ser­vice of­fer­ings meet the needs of your mar­ket as ef­fec­tively, ef­fi­ciently and af­ford­ably as pos­si­ble. Con­cen­trate on the “what” and the bet­ter your un­der­stand­ing of this grows, the eas­ier it’ll be to be in­no­va­tive and cre­ative and shift par­a­digms.

But whilst you are do­ing this, start think­ing about par­a­digms and head­ing to the ex­treme bound­aries of what you do and what cus­tomers say and be­lieve they want or need, and work con­stantly on new, dif­fer­ent, in­no­va­tive and cre­ative so­lu­tions.

But never forget that in this space, cus­tomers don’t know what they could need or want or what they could have. Did your mother ever put a chicken into the oven but con­sciously think that it would be great to have a de­vice that could zap this chicken in 15 min­utes? And yet the mi­crowave ar­rived any­way.

Here is the big ques­tion to ap­ply to the con­cept of par­a­digm shift­ing:

“Con­cen­trate on the ‘what’ and the bet­ter your un­der­stand­ing of this grows, the eas­ier it’ll be to be in­no­va­tive and cre­ative and shift par­a­digms.”

“What, that is im­pos­si­ble to do to­day, if it could be done, would fun­da­men­tally change the fu­ture of our busi­ness?”

Work on that ques­tion your­self. In­volve your man­age­ment and staff; find ways to seek your cus­tomer’s an­swers; process it all and do it con­stantly. It will pro­duce 99 per­cent of waf­fle, bunkum and balder­dash but the one per­cent that cracks the code will drive the fu­ture of your busi­ness into its next phase.

That will ex­cite the heck out of you. Hon­estly!

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