Yesterday is gone. 2010 is the time to start anew. It’s true that many of my clients and colleaguesare tightening their belts now through the first quarter of 2010, butit’s not due to fear carried over from 2009. Instead, many of them arestreamlining processes and making divisions more efficient inpreparation of new growth during the second half of 2010.
Thatthought may seem counterproductive – reduce to grow – but as I’veillustrated before, sometimes it takes a crisis for business leaders toimplement new tactics. Many strong companies, with good products and customerservice, have struggled over the last two years. But outthinkers haveused this opportunity to identify waste. Now they are ready to makesome final changes in order to be lean, mean, profitable machines in2010.
Beyond eliminating waste, it’s important to look ahead and take calculated chances. Below are twounique strategies that might help you develop an innovative approachthis New Year. As you will learn, well-known brands, such as McDonald’sand Toys “R” US, are using these exact approaches to make sure 2010 isstronger than 2009.
1. Seize the opportunity to lead the sheep away
2. Await the exhausted enemy at your ease
McDonald’s new free wi-fi strategy is an excellent example of “seize the opportunity to lead the sheep away.” By challenging Starbucks with its new coffee selections, and now offering free Wi-Fi, McDonald couldsteal cost-conscious consumers. Because Starbucks depends heavily onthese offerings for profit, it faces a significant “copying cost”:reducing coffee prices or going downscale, for example, would probablycost Starbucks more than it would gain by doing so. This stratagembasically suggest we look at what our competitors will not do becausethey are not motivated to or because they are distracted. I predictthat the burger giant will focus on its location atmosphere next tocreate a more appealing consumer experience.
Toys “R” Us is using the strategem “await the exhausted enemy at your ease.” A recent New York Times’ article clearly highlights the positive changes within Toys “R” Us under the leadership of Gerald Storch.
Yousee, while most toy companies have been occupied with the immediatechallenge of lowing costs and prices, Toys “R” Us has recently snatchedup most of the well-known specialty toy chains, including F. A. OSchwarz and KB Toys. It opened more than 80 temporary holiday toyshops, and it started the holiday season early by opening stores justafter midnight on black Friday. It also purchased etoys.com, toys.comand FAO.com, thereby locking up the major “toy” related web sites.
Toys”R” Us has been preparing for the post-recession battle. It starteddifferentiating itself by offering more locations, owning a morediverse roster of toy retail brands, expanding brand presence (withtemporary stoes), and controlling the “toy” cyber war.
These two companies offer examples of how established businesses need to adapt to changing market conditions. Ask yourself the questions below to see if you can leverage these stratagems to make 2010 a breakthrough year for you.
1. Where do we get most of our profits and what would happen if we stopped doing everything else?
2. Is there a way to do more work with our current infrastructure?
3. Whatdoes my competitor most care about and what would happen if I attackedthat (e.g., what if we offeref it for a low price or free)?
4. What will the battlefield look like after we and our competitors trim costs as low as they will go” What can you do today to prepare for that battlefield”