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

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