145. Innovate at 32 Degrees

Needed: Profitable Growth and Digital-Commerce Re-Modeling

Studies trumpet that: 60-80% of outstanding companies’ profitable growth comes from “innovation”. Could you use some bigger profits and more agility? And, all legacy channel players need to innovate to meet the developing digital desires of millennial B2B buyers.   

But -“Innovate or Die!”-  Is Too Dated and Vague  

Being innovative (books, sermons, mindsets, cultures, etc.) has been popular for years. Yet, over 90% of distributors still grind away at “best practices” for meager profits. And, if all distributors honestly wrote off dead inventory, how many would be profitless? So, what’s been missing?  

Loonshot Management!

Check out (at Amazon) a just published book: “Loonshots” by Bahcall. Read the best reviews and the “look inside” content. Buy and devour it!   

The author’s lead analogy is when both water and ice co-exist in dynamic equilibrium at 32 degrees. The water and ice represent two types of employees – innovators and soldiers – respectively. Your soldiers are part of a rigid machine striving to beat last year with proven (habitual) practices.  Sell and deliver to pay the bills; keep the machine going! Your innovative champion(s), if they exist, are nursing fragile, new-idea experiments (“loonshots”).

And, the two groups detest each other. So:

  • Create a new cost department for innovation and analytics.
  • Choose, hire or rent a part-time champion[1] to execute “scientific method” experiments.
  • Prioritize the best, fast-win experiments. (For ideas request my “Core Renewal Roadmap”: bruce@merrifield.com.[2])
  • Design incentives for gains that will also benefit any semi-cooperative soldiers.  
  • Love both soldiers and innovators the same. Keep them respectfully conversing to maintain the fragile equilibrium. Don’t let generals freeze out innovation. They’ll try. And, don’t let innovators belittle stuck-in-the-mud soldiers. 
  • Don’t take sides or get personally caught up in the implementation of new stuff. Keep instead the balance and communication going.

Will This Work? 

Big innovation, change, and results are scary and not easy to do. I believe success odds will soar for those distributor-principals curious and ambitious enough to check out both “Loonshots” and my “Roadmap”. And, if you do, I’d be delighted to donate a free virtual support session(s) as needed.


[1] I can recommend a terrific, independent, distributor-innovation champion for part-time hire.

[2] To execute on Roadmap Plays you will need customer/SKU, net-profitability analytics. Happy to do a C-suite, virtual session on these analytics. 

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