Every leader is looking for the next big thing in their business. More than ever, leaders are looking for answers that represent minimal risk, optimal financial benefit and immediate marketplace impact. Unfortunately, many leaders don’t know where the answers lie, as they are being challenged to find the right solutions for their most pressing needs – quickly.
Because we now operate in a change management infused world, it makes it difficult to identify the right strategies for survival and growth – as we continue to get lost within the demands of business necessity just to stay afloat. We keep solving for problems that could have been avoided if the right strategies had been properly thought out and successfully deployed. As such, we are all experiencing renewal and reinvention in our businesses.
For example, one thing that has certainly become much more obvious: we operate in a short-term, talent-based, rapid-paced, and trust-demanding world of work that has become more diverse and personally branded than ever before. There are many different types of people, attitudes and demands to serve. Business is becoming increasingly complex during a time when we all seek to simplify it.
Additionally, there is a paradigm shift we are all experiencing. During the pre-2008 recessionary times, an organization and their brands had the power to push (what appeared to be) unlimited budgets that were used to heavily influence employee engagement and consumer demand.
That control and balance of power has now shifted.
Survival mode has become the strategy for many businesses that feel the pressure of dealing with the increased costs of both employee and consumer acquisition and retention. Many businesses spend an extraordinary amount of time on satisfying the immediate needs of their employees and consumers to sustain any momentum that remains in sight.
Why? Individuals have much more control over businesses and brands than ever before. Top talent is becoming more difficult to hold onto as the competitive landscape gets stronger and organizations invest less to develop and retain them. Employees have been forced into a position where they must not only manage the brands of the organization they serve – but also their own personal brands.
Equally, with more choices in front of them, consumers have options and more intelligence to make purchasing decisions. Consumers have become much more fragmented and it’s difficult to cast a wide enough net to engage them with a one-size-fits-all approach. The rising popularity of social media and growing community clusters require businesses to have a much deeper relationship with their consumers to earn their trust and loyalty.
With the new realities that companies are being faced with – how do they most effectively course correct? The answers lie right in front of them – they must have a greater strategic focus on maximizing the relationships, skill-sets, competencies, engagement needs, and the know-how that lies within their respective employees and consumers.
To get your journey started in search of the next big thing in your business, here are five surefire strategies that will help guide you toward the answers you are looking for – by creating a path of momentum and opportunities for growth previously unseen in your organization.
1. Leadership Must Align with Your Business Model
It’s difficult to see beyond the obvious when an organization’s leadership is not in complete alignment with its business goals and objectives. Many organizations today find themselves at risk with complacent leadership that continues to grow fragmented as business models change and the requirements for success no longer align with the current skill-sets, capabilities and know-how of its leaders.
I recently asked a CEO of a Fortune 150 company to describe the company’s culture in one word. The response, “comfortable.” When I mentioned that comfortable is associated with a high-risk profile, he agreed but didn’t know how to fix the problem. This scenario is more prevalent than many would imagine. The solution is to step-back and recalibrate your leadership team and solidify its identity to assure that it is capable of achieving the mission and vision of the organization – and to assure that all levels of leadership are in equal alignment and supporting one another.
It’s impossible to discover the next big thing for your business when the leadership teams within a company represent disjointed, disparate parts – rather than a convergence of intelligence and know-how that is in sync and strongly interconnected.
2. Brands Must Focus on Advancing Humanity
Branding has become less about what consumers really need and more about what matters most to brands – and what they think consumers want. With so much competition and the rising cost of consumer acquisition, brands are attempting to hyper-stimulate artificial demand through a flurry of tactics designed to get consumers to pay attention to them. It feels like every day there is a new product or service that a brand is pitching that is the ultimate solution for a particular problem – one that most didn’t even know existed.
Consumers want brands to stop selling them so hard and start educating them on things that matter most to them. Consumers want brands to be more authentic about how they engage with them and allow them to play a more hands-on role in “the next big thing” – rather than feeling that it is being forced upon them.
In the end, brands must focus on advancing humanity by being more socially responsible. Consumers want brands to help them live a better life and increase their quality of living. Consumers, much like corporate leaders in search of the next big thing, simply want brands to focus on the fundamentals of satisfying their hierarchy of needs – rather than trying to sell them something that inflicts fear or feels forced in support of a trend that may come and go in a moment’s notice.
Innovation humanity is the new way brands should be thinking.
3. Alleviate Growing Tension Points
Because of the issues identified in points 1 and 2, companies and their leaders are unknowingly creating tension points between themselves and their employees and consumers. From what appears to be a constant neglect (or irresponsible inconsistency) of what matters most to the people they should be focused on serving rightly – emerges new problems, challenges and hurdles to climb.
Nothing is perfect, but clarity of purpose is a leadership responsibility. When organizations unknowingly begin to violate their purpose/mission, suddenly the business begins to spiral out of control and damage control kicks in. This makes it difficult to discover the next big thing –and your company is forced to tackle the next big problem instead.
Become more mindful of the tension points your company may be creating (both internally and externally) and begin to course correct; be courageous enough to change the conversation in a direction that begins to alleviate tensions and propel new opportunities for your business that were previously unseen and lost in the noise that you unknowingly had been creating.
4. Make the Workplace an Innovative Lab
Discovering the next big thing in your business requires your organization to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit. It demands that every employee take on the entrepreneurial attitude and is given the permission to responsibly fail along the way. The best ideas become reality when employees are not heavily restricted and they are given the tools and resources to unleash their passionate pursuits of excellent.
Make the workplace an innovation lab. Encourage collaboration and embrace diversity of thought. Throw the titles out the door and focus on hyper-leveraging everyone’s strengths and desires to contribute. Foster an environment that appreciates and respects differences and that is courageous enough to create the right formula to put them to the test.
Entrepreneurship is the difference between complacency and relevancy. Activate the minds, attitudes and desires of your employees to cultivate a workplace culture that fuels continuous innovation and initiative. Yes, this strategy may require you to recruit the right types of people, but instead of being reactive to the marketplace – you will be faster, smarter and wiser than the competition.
Reinvention is the new normal. Embrace it by allowing your organization to discover opportunities that were previously unseen and by activating great talent from the inside out – rather than being forced to react from the outside in.
5. Become Intelligent About People
The reason most leaders find it difficult to discover the next big thing is because they can’t see what lies right in front of them. Let’s face it; things are changing so fast that we can’t see as much as we could before. In many respects, many of the best leaders lack the circular vision to see what is taking place around, beneath and beyond what they seek. Many leaders operate each day with blind spots and thus are not able to make the best decisions – especially about their employees and consumers.
Business is about people intelligence and when leaders begin to take the time to become more educated about the diverse needs of those they serve — they will begin to realize that the old ways of doing things are never going to get them where they ultimately want to go.
People intelligence is about becoming more engaged with and having a deeper relationship with those that ultimately determine the fate of your company’s success – and creating a platform that gives them a voice that is heard, valued and appreciated.
The next big thing is yours for the taking – but first you’ve got to learn to see beyond the obvious, to see the opportunities before you previously unseen. There’s no room for complacency in leadership; today’s leaders must have vision – with both eyes on the organization’s mission and the people it serves. Brands must be more in tune with humanity, and the workplace must become not just a place of work, but the heartbeat of innovation and entrepreneurship. Above all, we must embrace people intelligence and stop fueling tension points with employees and consumers – because they are the ultimate source of the next big thing.
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- Click here to learn more about what is required to discover the next big thing in your business.