“As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. … But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know”. Donald Rumsfeld (2-12-02)
From Ridicule to Daily Realities
The media ridiculed Rumsfeld’s quote in ’02. Today? As the global economy tries to reboot with sledgehammer “help” from both governments and central banks, surprise snafus are the New Normal.
Nobody knows what will happen next. Economists can’t agree on anything. Their forecast-misses are comical. And, whether our Fed allows interest rates to rise or not, there could be bad outcomes.
Distributors’ most urgent problems are with shortages for both hourly workers and product. For now – product shortages and inflation are airbrushing distributors’ financial results. But, when might – busts, gluts and deflation – follow our present sugar-high recovery?
Meanwhile, don’t ignore the on-going trend towards digital commerce. Zoomified, millennial, B2B buyers want Amazon-type buying experiences. How buddy-buddy will digital buyers be when shortages turn to gluts? Which makers and distributors will offer the new – selling, business and channel – models these buyers will reward?
What To Do?
- Stay calm. In spite of hot-air opinions, nobody knows for sure what’s next.
- Start a running, evolving list of issues under four headings:
- Known problems with Known solutions
- Known problems with Unknown solutions
- New problems that outside advisors can help identify
- Wild guess scenarios for possible Unknown, Unknowns.
- Ask advisors to also: weigh priorities; and suggest adaptable solutions from other channels.
- Get customer profitability analytics. Use the insights and plays to: migrate towards a high-engagement environment; and focus everyone on doing more for best accounts while helping to transform losing accounts into winners.
- Step 4 will boost company – profits, confidence, and agility – to then deal with unknown surprises better than 90% of other distributors.
- Above all: stay humble. Get used to saying: “I don’t know, what do you think”. Think in scenarios with probabilities that change with new information. And, increase small experiments in which the learning benefits outweigh costs and risks.
For achieving a high-engagement culture go to merrifieldact2.com and download my “Core Renewal Roadmap”. For customer profitability plays see my webinars 3 -7 under the “ecommerce 2023” tab. And, for new, selling models see webinars 8 -10.
By solving Known-Knowns and Known-Unknowns, you will boost corporate agility to handle the forthcoming Unknowns better than competitors.