Category Archives: Service Value Innovation Guidelines

157. “Only The Paranoid Survive” 2.0

Andy Grove’s Book and Quote

Grove was a founder of Intel, and its CEO from ’87 to ’98. He wrote an acclaimed book on what he had learned: “Only the Paranoid Survive”, published in ’99.  His summary quote:

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155. Your Lake-Woebegone Service Value

“SERVICE IS VITAL; OURS IS GOOD!”

Most distributors know/believe this phrase. But, are you living in Lake Woebegone where everyone is above average? We all practice some degree of the “self-enhancement bias”. It’s good for our species’ happiness, sanity and survival.

But, if competitors have “good service” too, what’s the tie-breaker? Isn’t it meeting a “price”? Then, won’t you get commodity returns, and struggle to attract and keep new young talent?

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152. Don’t Misapply: “Keep It Simple Stupid” (KISS)

“Bruce, KISS It!”

For years on the distribution speaking circuit, Polished Pleasers have advised me to: “Make your message simple, appealing, dumbed-down – with memorable sound-bites or key distributor folks won’t listen. Your advice on service-value innovation for net-profitable customers and customer niches is too complicated.  Tell them what they want to hear. (Be an edutainer!)”

Some distributors (along with my own turnarounds) have pursued what I preach for great results. Wins keep you going! But, many distributors are still not suffering enough (yet) to want to upgrade their simplistic, operating, financial beliefs.

The intent behind KISS was not to adopt simplistic notions for success. Simplistic always yields weak, commodity, follow-the-herd returns! What was KISS’s intent? How did it get distorted? What should you do about it? Read on!    

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150. Increase and Improve Your Beliefs

Humans are Belief Inventors

Human brains evolved to survive as a tribe in a hunter-gathering world. We accumulated both practical and magical beliefs through experience. If belief-guided actions worked (we didn’t die or got lucky), then we kept doing them. (Lucky Charms v Gremlins!)      

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148. A Distributor’s New “Innovation Department 1.0”

Questions About “Innovation”

True or False:

  • Innovation is key to faster growth and greater profitability
  • Amazon has changed the buying expectations of your next-gen, millennial, B2B buyers
  • If you don’t digitally oblige next-gen buyers, you will lose business to faster-moving, traditional competitors and/or to Amazon Business
  • Companies like Amazon and Google allocate huge funds to R&D to invent new (disruptive) solutions for unmet needs
  • You currently have an effective R&D department
Continue reading 148. A Distributor’s New “Innovation Department 1.0”

147. Does “Fail Forward” Happen Enough at Your Firm?

Get the Tattoo? The Logic Has Gone Household!

The original – “Fail: fast, often, forward” – quote was penned by Samuel Beckett. It’s tattooed on tennis player Stan Wawrinka’s forearm.  Variations abound, like: “I never lose, I win or learn”.

Attendance in Entrepreneurship classes is booming at colleges. Every student parrots these startup steps:

  1. Find an unmet need.
  2. Invent a solution (by rapid prototyping; failing forward) of value that supports a price higher than the cost to insure a profit.  
  3. Once you nail such a solution, then scale it.   

Why Don’t Distributors Re-invent Service-Value?                                   

I’ve written a big document (free upon request) entitled: “CORE RENEWAL ROADMAP TO EVERYONE-WINS (How Distributors Can Act on Customer Profitability Ranking Realities)”. The feedback? Too often it is: “I get it, but we can’t execute.” Why? Common reasons:

  • “We don’t believe in sharing general financial numbers with all employees.” Open-book management (OBM) is, however, a pre-requisite for engaging everyone to help reinvent service-value. Service improvement, in turn, boosts sales wins, productivity, profits and pay. All stakeholder groups win. Why the NO-OBM belief? Keep asking “why” until there are no more underlying reasons. You will have arrived at the true root-cause(s) for surface resistance. Then, solve them or fade.
  • Customer net-profitability analytics revelations conflict with “our (data-free) financial mantras”. Does the C-suite really want a better future for all? If yes, write down old-beliefs to test and revise in light of new analytics discoveries.
  • “OK. We roughly believe the new analytical results, but they are embarrassing. Who wants to take historic credit for the profit-draining activity and customers?” Offer blanket forgiveness to all and move forward!  
  • “But, the roadmap changes are overwhelming.” Learning and doing new things is tough. Start any big journey with small, discrete, baby-steps. Quick, small wins build confidence and momentum.  
  • “The top 30% of the payroll (including all reps) don’t want to change or risk pay cuts.” Guarantee their pay along with new upside incentives. Have change champs do the lifting and give everyone credit for wins. Most will eventually jump on the great-results bandwagon.  
  • “No one else in my market is doing this.” Great! You win by being an innovator not following the herd.

Failing-Forward Catalyst?

For new-vision stimulation, request my roadmap and a C-Suite, virtual session on customer/SKU net-profitability analytics. bruce@merrifield.com