Straight Up

When you look at the earth from space, or even your city from an airplane, you can’t help but think how relatively small we really are in the scheme of things. Imagine if your office chair was able to blast off slowly like rocket at Cape Canaveral. As you slowly ascend you see your business below you. Then, as you get a little higher, you see other businesses and communities come into view. Soon you see your city, state, country, hemisphere and then the planet. Down there somewhere is your business, only now it just part of the great mix.

You may have a distinctive product or service at a great value, and a cute label or package. Still, you feel stuck in the same place you were last year. Now, consider the 10,000-foot view: Here are some lessons you can learn from this elevated position that will stimulate new ideas and encourage creative problem solving.

  1. Look at your business from the viewpoint of an outsider. When you see it as others see it, and not just as your staff views it, it may surprise you. Your staff’s view may be slanted by their own professional organizations or their desire to fit in to other mainstream companies. Your end-user may have a completely different prospective.
  2. Take a close look at where you can improve your strategic alliances. Notice what organizations will benefit by your success. Do you have suppliers that will grow if you grow? What non-profits can you align your product with that your customers support?
  3. When you look at the big picture, you can identify the larger forces at work. Know your end-user, their method of communication, their economic circumstances, their habits, their culture, their psychology. When you address them in the manner they are most comfortable with, they will respond in a more positive manner.
  4. Discover what’s been out of fashion too long. Most everything comes back eventually. Why not be the first to bring it back? Convertibles were off the market for over a decade until the Ford Mustang; science fiction movies were as well until “Star Wars.”
  5. Note the distribution requirements to get your product to your end-user. Even if you think your distributor or retail buyer will take care of all the necessary details along the way, realize how you can help them. Then do it.
  6. Take a broader view of your industry. Who else is in the same general distribution channel? How do they position themselves? Who is the leader? What was their approach?  Now, determine how your product or service excels, or fits a need that may not be satisfied by your competitors.
  7. Take inventory when you face a challenge requiring a creative solution. Look around and see what assets you have. Don’t be afraid to look at all your problems at once. Using the 10,000-foot view, you may see other businesses that also face challenges. More often than not, the best and most elegant solution is the answer to more than one problem, for more than one person or business.

You can encourage and reward this type of thinking by your staff with permission, acknowledgement and incentives to take the 10,000-foot view. Take the fastest way out of the box – straight up!


About Michael Houlihan & Bonnie Harvey

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