My message is simple, think BIG about your business. Ask yourself the simple question, “what business am I really in?” Your respond to this question can impact your business in a very significant way. Your answer will shape how you see your company, how your employees see it, how your competitors see it, and how your customers see it. If you think too small you run the risk of getting left behind. What do I mean by “thinking too small?” Take the railroad companies for example. For years they thought of themselves as being in the railroad business rather than being in the transportation business. This narrow view of their business allowed newer competitors in the “transportation” industry to take away their customers. The railroad companies serviced their customers only from a railroad perspective neglecting to expand into areas the automotive, aerospace, or telecommunications companies did. Let’s go back to thinking about your company. Are you in a larger “business” than you think? How can you think bigger to service more customers? Check out the examples below: • Hollywood – Movie Business or Entertainment Business? • Lifetime Fitness – Gym or Fitness Center? • Sheetz – Gas Station or Full-Service
Birmingham Alabama is home to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, also known as, the worlds “best and largest” motorcycle collection. The museum opened its doors to public in 1995 with the goal of showcasing the engineering, balance, and unique design of each motorcycle under its roof. To-date the museum is home to over 1,400 motorcycles that spans over 100 years of production. Bikes from over 200 different manufacturers are represented in the museum’s collection. The museum staff takes pride in conserving and restoring motorcycles to running condition, and in some cases, to competition-ready shape. Their motto is to make the museum a “living museum”. Turing the museum into a “living museum” sometimes isn’t always that easy. When vintage bikes come into the museum (like a 1903 Harley Davidson), and need restored, the parts for the bikes are no longer being produced by the manufacturer and the museum might not be able to locate the needed parts in the market. When situations like this happen, what does it do? The answer is simple, it calls on additive manufacturing expert Dave Pierson for help. Dave has the knowledge and resources to reverse engineer the parts that no longer exist and directly print
No one wants to fail (most normal people at least), we want to be WINNERS! Sometimes, however failing can be a good thing. An unexpected failure may be an equally important source of an innovative opportunity, at least it was for Ford. In 1959 Ford introduced the Edsel to the market, a carefully designed car that would help Ford complete its product line, making it competitive with General Motors. Despite all the careful planning, market research, and design Ford put into the Edsel it completely bombed, sales were far below expectation. When analyzing the situation, Ford realized it had been segmenting its customers all wrong. Instead of segmenting them by income group, they should be segmented by their “lifestyle”. The new segmentation strategy resulted in a restructuring of how Ford produced cars. Seeing a need to appeal to the “Sports Guy” it soon designed and manufactured the Ford Mustang in 1962 and the rest is history! Have you ever turned an unexpected failure into an innovative opportunity? This story covers one source of innovation, “unexpected occurrences”. For more information on this topic check out the full article here: The Discipline of Innovation by Peter Drucker.
On October 24th MAGNET teamed up with Brouse McDowell to host the first Manufacturing Executive Session at Brouse’s offices in Akron. The speaker for this session was Joe Kanfer, CEO of GOJO Industries, who delivered an amazing presentation on how GOJO successfully innovates. Joe laid out his 5 key ingredients for successful innovation: Drive out Fear Innovative companies develop a culture of confidence not fear. They reduce negative repercussions that come along with employees presenting new ideas and/or offering ways to improve things. Joe’s statement was “don’t get stuck in the middle”, don’t let fear paralyze you. In order to successfully innovate, get out from behind the computer, go visit your customers, stop making assumptions and start asking them the questions directly. Conduct Customer Research Innovation comes from understanding the work processes of your customers, knowing how they operate (ethnography), and delivering value by solving their problems. While you are “driving out fear” study the environment of your customers, investigate how your products are used, and look for other opportunities. Other opportunities will present themselves if you analyze your products before use or shortly after use. Watch Future Technology Trends Innovation doesn’t happen in a bubble. Technology is evolving fast,
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.