Thursday, August 17, 2006

attack yourself to be successful

Are you attacking yourself, your products, and your company? If you don't do it, someone else will. If you don't find the weak spots in, and ways to surpass, your products, then your lean and mean competitors will.

The strongest criticism must come from within.

You cannot gaze lovingly at everything you do and say and sell.

You must get down on the audience or consumer's level and look at yourself with temporary contempt. Pretend your company or blog belongs to some other person. Make fun. Pick at it. Needle it. Mock it. Parody and satirize it. Seek out what needs to be surgically removed, or drastically improved.

You must look at your company, products, blog, even yourself, with harsh, critical vision.

What's wrong with it? How could it be better? What sucks? What is in need of repair? What is the weakest link? What is the worst aspect? What could a competitor make fun of? What could a customer rightfully complain about?

This is the Power of Negative Thinking. You must look at yourself, your blog, your company with nihilistic scorn sometimes. Keep looking for what could come along and render it obsolete, irrelevant, unprofitable.

Peter F. Drucker discusses this approach in his book Managing for the Future (Truman Talley Books/Dutton, 1992, p. 177-183 "The New Japanese Business Strategies").

Systematic Abandonment is described thus:

"...the winner in a competitive world economy is going to be the firm that most effectively shortens the life of its own products -- that is, the firm that best organizes the systematic abandonment of its own products." p. 177.

"To most Western businessmen, this is madness. They believe that a product becomes more profitable the longer its product life. For then the monies spent on developing it have been written off. But writing off to the Japanese is accounting fiction -- useful to cut taxes, but otherwise sheer self-delusion. Money spent on developing a product or process is not investment to them, it is sunk cost....

"It is their growing conviction that the only alternative to themselves shortening the life cycle of the product is for a competitor to do so -- and then the competitor will not only have the profits but the market as well....

"By deciding in advance that they will abandon a new product within a given period of time, the Japanese force themselves to go to work immediately on replacing it." p. 181.

Drucker goes on to say that this Systematic Abandonment is performed with three new products being the replacements for the one successful product: (1) kaizan: new, improved version, (2) leaping: massively improved version, (3) innovation: totally new, unimaginable, revolutionary product.

Perhaps we could see it this way: (1) similar but better (3) different and better (3) totally bizarre and miraculously better.

What are you doing to replace your most successful product, blogging style, employment resume?

For an example of attacking at an entity's strongest point, I recall Al Ries and Jack Trout saying in the book Marketing Warfare that when Hertz was #1 in car rentals, their strongest point was their market share dominance. Avis attacked it by saying, "Our lines are shorter." That got the consumer to think of Avis as the faster way to get a rental car.

Think about yourself, your company, your product, your personality, your career skills.

What's the worst thing an employer could say about your resume? What's the worst thing a customer might accurately state about your product? What's the worst thing a jealous blogger could say about your blog, your style, your content, your comment posters?

Positive thinking and big dreaming are great. But we must also learn how to deconstruct our beautiful accomplishments and strategies, if we wish to remain in a leadership or mentor role in our fields of endeavor.


carrie said...

temporary contempt is an awesome fraze

Chris Ritke said...

This is an awesome post. Never thought of it this way - but it's dead on right. I'm going to get to it right now.

Have a great weekend!

steven edward streight said...

I keep harping on the same ideas, but as Harvey MacKay says, we don't necessarily need new ideas, we need to practice faithfully some old values that everyone knows and agrees with, but are too lazy or comfortable to dedicate themselves to.

Like, never cold call a prospect, get some kind of introduction. Like, do your homework, research that customer you want to sell to, or that company you want to employ you.

You can spot people who never are critiqued, who cringe and scowl at any suggestion for improvement or adjustment.

"I'm fine just the way I am" they proclaim erroneously, while their family, friends, and co-workers roll their eyes and nudge each other.

"Our product is fine just the way it is," the manufacturer lies, knowing there are many shortcomings and imperfections and faults.

"My blog is fine just as it is now," they chortle, as other bloggers laugh and shake their heads in unbelief.

"I don't have to add podcasts or vidoe or photos," the underachievers whine, dropping further and further behind the times.