During the early 1930s, IBM developed the first modern accounting machine designed for the financial sector. However, the banks weren’t buying the IBM machines; in fact, they were just trying to stay in business, and no one was investing in new equipment. The accounting technology was new, and people didn’t understand its potential yet (thus a reluctance to invest in it). Even with this dismal outlook, IBM found an unexpected solution: libraries. Unlike the banks, libraries during the early days of the New Deal era had money to invest. After the famed New York Public Library bought an accounting machine, others followed suit, leading to more than 100 purchases by libraries across the country. Once the economy regained momentum after World War II, the business community once again had the money to invest and recognized the sheer importance of computing technology. IBM redesigned their machines to help companies complete their payroll, and within a few years, IBM became a leader in the computer industry. Have you ever experienced an unexpected occurrence similar to IBM? Was in how the product was made or how the product was sold to the market? This story covers one source of innovation known as “unexpected
While engaging with other people is a staple of being a good manager, being a successful leader lies in something more: the ability to manage yourself. The world is full of executives who spend their days strategizing and weighing external outcomes, but real leadership means looking inward to find how your own strengths, values, and assets can help you manage yourself as well as others. This process has many pieces to it, but at the heart of it, there are a few core principles that play a vital role in being a leader (versus a manager) and getting the impactful results you want: Spend your time and energy improving on strengths instead of weaknesses. This concept is based on the idea that it takes far more to get from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence. As a leader and influencer, why would you spend all of your time and energy trying to be a jack of all trades and a master of none? It’s important to recognize early on that successful individuals excel in one or two areas, as this focus allows them to pursue excellence rather than settling for a skill set
Think about this scenario: You are a contract manufacturing company that has been in operation for 20+ years offering your customers the great quality and customer service, at a low price. You have a long list of customers that seem more than content with the services and capabilities that you provide. You were able to survive the Great Recession of 2008-2009 with minimal losses to your customer base; however, over the past 2-3 years, sales have been declining, and some of your trusted markets (like oil and gas) haven’t been as lucrative as before. You know you need to do something new to produce the results you want, but where do you start? Start with marketing and innovation. According to the late Peter Drucker, “The purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two and only two basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” Think about it from another perspective, no one in the market knows how good your product or service is until after the sale, so before they buy, they only know how good your marketing is.