The Challenge of Follicles

Greetings.  It's important to have great products, services, and solutions.  And, to be passionate about the value that your offerings provide to customers. But it's even more important to offer the right solution in meeting customer needs.  Because almost every "need" or "problem" has more than one answer.  This is an important fact of life for almost every company and organization that I've had the privilege to work with.  And it's also a critical consideration in developing and implementing an effective business strategy.

This topic hit home in a humorous way last week when our children and I were reading the May issue of Consumer Reports in a quick effort to get advice on the best low-cost gas grill to purchase.  Skimming the magazine's pages we came across an article titled "Baldness Remedies."   And it caused quite a laugh among some of us.  If you know me, or have ever noticed the totally handsome pictures of me on the side of this blog, you know that I am–to use a slightly clever scientific term–"follically" or "follicularly challenged."  It's a quirk of nature and apparently a gift from my maternal grandfather who arrived in this country in the early 1900's with a dream, a single suitcase, little or no money, and even less hair.  Not that I choose to do anything about it.  Because in my worldview it's simply an important, logical, and lower maintenance step in our ongoing evolution to becoming a much more sophisticated life form.

But some people take balding very seriously and, according to Consumer Reports, fifty percent of men in their survey attempt to "mask their hair loss" in one of seven different ways.  Here's a list along with an assessment of their effectiveness:

Technique (% responding that it was "very" or "somewhat" effective)

  1. Wear a wig or toupee (65%)
  2. Shave head (46%)
  3. Dress better (46%)
  4. Exercise to improve physique (44%)
  5. Change hair style (43%)
  6. Use products that make hair look thicker (38%)
  7. Cover head more often (30%)

Based on this study, one might determine that hair loss is an opportunity for:

  • Wig makers
  • Gillette, other razor manufacturers, and barbers
  • Clothing designers
  • Health clubs
  • Comb, hairbrush, and gel producers
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Hat retailers
  • Or, no one

And, you'd be right.  It all depends on the customer, their assessment of the need or problem, and their understanding of the right answer or the best set of possible answers.

Andre-Agassi 

We win in business by loving what we provide…but only when it really is the right solution for those we choose to serve.  What's the equivalent of hair loss in your world?  And, what part of the answer are you and your colleagues willing to play.

Cheers!

Creating a Corporate Newstand

Greetings.  I'm often asked to suggest the best things to read for teams that are eager to spark innovation but too busy to make it through a book.  And there are lots of great choices including a short book, a really fun book, a few chapters of a fantastic book (of which I'm partial to a couple listed below), along with a wide range of magazines and blogs.  The key is to keep reading and searching for ideas to unlock your curiosity, creativity, and sense of possibilities.  So let's think about magazines for a few moments, because I know that practically all of us love to read them.  We read them in waiting rooms, bring them along on trips, pick them up at the airport or train station, and are often excited to find one in the pocket in front of our airline seat.  And if it's a copy of the latest issue of People magazine…all the better.  Not that we'd ever actually pay to learn about the private lives of celebrities (or be caught dead reading it in the office).  But in travel mode it's a fun release.

Given our pension for quick and glossy information, why not make magazines an important and useful part of our learning and exploration?  The trick is to pick the right ones.  And here you have plenty of leeway.  Because different things spark different people.  But if I were looking for a good place to start, I'd begin by creating a small corporate "newstand."  Or at least a roving cart to push down the halls looking for takers.  And on it I'd include a bunch of interesting magazines from any number of fields or disciplines.  I might even decide to periodically "deliver" magazines to everyone I work with.  The key is to pick publications that are all about new ideas, best practices, and insights from people and places we don't normally come in contact with or find in any of our trade or industry journals.  Of course, I have my favorites–found in the modest newstand at our office.  They include:

And, of course, what office newstand would be complete without:

The real challenge is to expand your reading horizons and, in the process, to unlock your curiosity and genius.  By thinking thinking about new topics.  Seeing new perspectives.  Figuring out what really matters to people in other industries, places, and walks of life.  Imagining other possibilities.  And then starting to spark new conversations and connect the dots between different ideas and the challenges and opportunities you and your colleagues face.  Not that these magazines will hold the exact answers to your problems.  But they are likely to help you discover a more valuable question along the way.

People Cover 

We win in business and in life when we broaden our reading horizons and challenge ourselves to have fun with new and remarkable ideas. And by taking the time to curl up in a comfortable chair with a new friend who opens our eyes.

Cheers and happy reading!