If you want your associates to roll their eyes, look at you as if you’ve lost your marbles, or walk away shaking their heads, tell them that thinking is the best business tool ever made.
Like oil and water, Brady and Goodell, and culture and the Kardashians, thinking and business are usually at odds with each other. Taking action is the key to success in business, not sitting around thinking.
“I will act now,” Og Mandino, the venerated sales guru urged in his bestseller The Greatest Salesman in the World. To make his point, he repeated, “I will act now” 18 times in one of his “scrolls.” In other words, “Just do it!”
Hold on! In life and business “just doing it” can have disastrous consequences. How many times have you heard these words: “I didn’t think that would happen,” “I didn’t mean to,” or “Gee, I hadn’t thought of that.” If that’s not enough, “I’m sorry” are code words for “I didn’t think.” It’s the story of acting without thinking.
Here’s how thinking changes things:
1. Don’t “ape” the competition.
The pull of a competitor is so powerful and compelling, it creates near hysterical turmoil: “If we don’t do that now, they’ll get ahead of us” and “We’ll lose out if we don’t…”
The latest race is seeing which auto manufacturer will be the first to load up its vehicles with the most technology. But that’s small potatoes compared to which one will produce the first driverless car.
But not so fast. While most other auto manufacturers are racing to win the driverless vehicle race, Porsche is idling its engine, says CEO Oliver Blume. Why? He recently explained his reasoning when speaking to a German newspaper. His customers want “to drive a Porsche by oneself.” They buy a Porsche to drive it, not just sit in it. Blume thought it through and let the bandwagon drive by without Porsche.
All too often, competition is an 800-pound gorilla goading us into doing something counter-productive, useless, or just plain stupid.
Google Compare is an example. An online auto insurance comparison-shopping service, it was touted as a disruptor and a “game changer,” but it was gone in only a year. Why? It didn’t understand that selling what customers need is quite different from selling what customers want.
2. Doubt your customer satisfaction scores.
If a company measures its customer satisfaction performance against that of its direct competitors, it’s a huge mistake. And here’s why: Direct competitors aren’t today’s competition.
Think about it. Today’s customer satisfaction competition is Amazon, Nordstrom, Apple, Trader Joe’s, and other companies that get stellar ratings from their customers.
Here’s the challenge: Every time Amazon, for example, makes even a tiny customer service improvement, everyone else looks worse. It’s worth thinking about.
3. Vet every idea before taking action.
It may seem so obvious that it doesn’t deserve attention. But think about almost any meeting you’ve attended at work in the last week where a new, exciting idea was presented, gained momentum, and was a done deal. Chances are no one spoke up and said, “Are we sure this will work?”