Friday, February 19, 2010

Serendipity is the Key.

Most of the established businesses get into a pattern of finding out what is working and doing 'more of it'. This is good for bottom line, margins, and retention of your existing customers. But, is it good for breaking new grounds ? Making the pie bigger ? Your Top-line?

Business-as-Usual is to work hard consistently, trying to cash out on the idea that made the business successful. They work hard at establishing Cliches. Cliches are good. They are 'time immemorial'. They express ideas in simple words, but they lack the freshness and eloquence of a magical orator. If you have read the blogs of Seth Godin or heard president Obama speak or have followed the marketing of Apple, they do not rely on Cliches. They break the mold, create new meaning, speak different truth, change the worldview, present their stories in a more innate yet excitingly new package. They are Contrarians. They are Serendipitous. Here is what Seth Godin has to say about Cliches

Imagine that you are a T-Shirt vendor with a inventory of T-Shirts made of several attributes. Lets say you have 4 sizes (S, M, L, XL) and 4 Colors (Red, Blue, Green, White). When you first set shop, you do not know how many of each T-Shirt variant to carry (how many of Blue-XL will sell?). So you start with 10 shirts per variant combination and open business. Now, the first month you sold all the Green-L shirts, some Blue-XL and none of the others. What do we do? We decided that Green-L sells more in this catchment and order a bigger inventory of Green-L and lesser of others (Finding out what is working and doing more of it). If for the next few months, the trend continues, then, going by the pace, you may land up being a Green-L T-Shirt vendor. Its obvious that the more Green-Ls you have, the more your sales-report shows that you have sold the same. You already know whats wrong in this analogy. Yes, its a simple example, its so easy to see. Its a no-brainer.

But then, how come you do not see this analogy in the business strategies you follow ? How come you are not trying to find out what else your consumers are willing to try ? Why do we intellectualize for ages on why something "may not" work because "your" past data provides facts to your beliefs. Is it Fear ?

Start-ups on the other hand does not fear to be serendipitous (In a way, they have nothing to loose). An entrepreneur identifies an opportunity to make meaning. A passion-fruit colored T-Shirt, A Vanilla-Sky colored Tshirt. Try something afresh yet innate. Change the fabric, the texture, the weaving, the grain count, whatever... But be eager to explore, break the Cliche, turn it upside down. This is why it works and new tribes are formed. This why the most successful ones are Genre-Bending.

Every time you support your views on past-data, think again. Question yourself. Give Serendipity a chance. Believe in the art of possible.

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