141. What’s Your Flywheel?


It’s a term popularized by Jim Collins (author of: “Good To Great”, etc.) The idea is that within great companies there is often a virtuous-cycle with about 4 to 6 steps that drives profitable growth. Each step reinforces the next. The entire cycle compounds itself.  The rich get richer, and the poor? Well, they work hard to deliver commodity-value for poor results.    

Collins’ New Monograph:

Collins recently published: “Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good To Great”. It’s a quick, concise, recommended read. His concepts aren’t new, but his terms are catchy and inspirational.

And, Collins distills – an entire process for creating a flywheel – into a simplified (not simplistic) brilliant whole. For summary pictures Google Image: “Flywheel + Collins”. To see the flywheel that is eating into all physical, product-push, un-digital channels, Google image: “Amazon + Flywheel”.

Two Problems with Collins Framework

First: most companies don’t have the requisite capabilities to make big changes away from their complacent, hidebound status quo. Collins’ updated framework has four stages with 12 underlying capabilities – including looking at the “Brutal Facts”. Who, for example, wants to confess to tolerating incompetent and/or complacent players, having flawed, data-free beliefs, or having 30-50% of their customers being net-unprofitable?

Second: his monograph is necessarily generalized. What’s a best, distributor-specific flywheel strategy? Answer: at youtube search for: “merrifield + service profit”  to find my 7-minute adaptation of “the service profit chain”.  Then, for implementation specifics, request my free “Core Customer Renewal Roadmap” (bruce@merrifield.com.)

Roadmap Warning: Data-Free, Emotional Objections Ahead

In many presentations, audiences have agreed with the logic of my version of the Service Profit Chain. But, when management teams read through my Roadmap, the “concerns” start to arise. Write them down. Gently unpack their origins. Forgive past mismanagements; “we were doing the best we could with the analytics we didn’t have.” Test the data-free assumptions with statistical data and surveys of parties “who won’t like this”.  Maintaining the status quo is not an option in a fast-changing world.   

The Necessity of a Service-Excellence Flywheel

Physical, Product-Push Channels are under siege. Whether Amazon-Business nibbles or chomps into your channel over the next few years is one concern. A bigger concern? All next-gen, B2B buyers want digital-buying experiences and empowerment. Without flywheel profit-power, can you innovate to meet customers’ growing digital needs?  Or, will top 5% already-Great distributors innovate faster and eat your lunch?    

Come and meet me at MDM’s Pricing and Profitability Summit, in Denver, on April 15-17. I’ll make it easier for you: use coupon WayPoint2020 to get 100$ upon registration. See you there. https://pnp.mdm.com/

Leave a Reply