Recently some of my coworkers and I attended a seminar courtesy of the Yes Network, the guest speaker was Gaurav Bhalla. His segment was called “Champion Mindsets, A Prerequisite for Achieving Quantum Leaps in Performance.”
He started off discussing how the world has evolved, mentioning that not even that long ago a lot of businesses could invest their time and money developing new products in order to dominate the market. He specifically mentioned Sony vs. Samsung, saying that Sony focused on creating new products, while at the same time Samsung only had black and white televisions, he then called on people in the crowd; encouraging them to pull out their Sony Discman or Sony Walkman. The point he was trying to make was that companies like Sony thought they were untouchable, so they kept creating new products and forcing them into the market, meanwhile Samsung did their research and listened to what it was that customers actually wanted and created products to fulfill their needs. Because of Samsung’s market strategy they are now #13 on the Fortune 500 while Sony is #105.
Bhalla said that for businesses to see success they have to listen to their customers and employees. It is imperative that businesses solicit and encourage what he calls feedforward instead of feedback in order to not get stuck watching competitors pass them by. He says that in order for a company to move in a different direction they have to change the way they think by actively investing in and developing a champion mindset.
There are 5 tiers to developing a Champion Mindset:
- Customer 1st Thinking
- Cognitive Diversity
- If…Then Thinking
The following are some of the highlights of the 5 tiers:
Customer 1st Thinking
He says that a lot of businesses like to boast about how great they are, and his first question is always, “You’re great according to whom?” If the answer to that question isn’t, according to our customers/clients then you are doing something wrong. In business a lot of the answers to complex questions are obvious, one of the most obvious statements is that without customers there is no business. You need to find out what your customers are looking for, find out how you can satisfy that need and then work backwards to implement that strategy into your business. He said that a lot of companies spend a lot of money investing in the latest technology, and then they try to cram it down a customer’s throat instead of simply asking your target market what they need. Don’t tell the customer how great you are, show them. One of his sayings was that a lot of companies upgrade themselves to first class and leave their customers in coach back by the toilets. At American Profit Recovery a lot of attention and priority is given to our clients, all of the departments here management, sales, customer service, collections, administration are always asking them what can we do to help them and offering them advice.
When it comes to being innovative all businesses say it is a top priority but for most it is just lip service, to put the customer at ease. This lip service is what allows competitors to come into the market and dominate, the example that he said that was easy for us to relate to here in Michigan was snow. Saying that when we get a lot of snow it always starts to melt on the edges first not in the middle, this is similar to competition they don’t come in and dominate you where you are strongest, it sneaks up on you from the edges where you’re not paying attention. For a business to see longevity in the marketplace innovation has to come to work every day. Employees from all departments have to feel safe offering their input. A way we do that here at APR is by providing employees a way to submit their Bright Idea into management; often these ideas are ones that benefit the client and can be implemented immediately.
He said that we live in a VUCA World:
Volatility – rate of change
Uncertainty – unclear about present situation and future outcomes
Complexity – multiplicity of key decision factors
Ambiguity – lack of clarity about the meaning of an event
There is an old saying that “if you want to go somewhere fast then go alone, if you want to go somewhere far then go with others.” It is imperative that we collaborate and work together, he said that in our personal lives we have no problem doing it but in business it’s not done as often because egos get in the way. When a business utilizes collaboration and co-creation it is then that they create new and true value for the customer.
Often when we think of diversity the first thing that comes to mind is differences such as race, gender, or origin. However the diversity that is referred to here is the kind you would find at a round table, he said you want everyone to have a seat and a round table without a defined leader encourages collaboration. He said that one way to check if you should go in a different direction is to figuratively fire yourself, and then ask what would be the first thing the new guy who replaced me would do? If it’s different then what you are currently doing, then listen to it and change your strategy to the new guy’s direction. When things don’t work out, check your assumptions usually one is wrong.
You won’t go far if you’re always trying to drive forward while staring in the rearview mirror, he mentioned that the if it’s not broke don’t fix it is one of the worst mentalities a business can ever have. We have to evolve from where we are now because the future is not an extension of the past. The example he gave here was Starbucks, their strategy was just keep opening new stores. No one ever stopped to ask, “If we keep opening new stores in close proximity to each other, then won’t it eventually lead to a saturated market?” We can’t fight uncertainty, we have to make friends with it, if you don’t take care of tomorrow today, you may be in trouble tomorrow.
If you don’t invest in innovation, then uncertainty will do you in. It’s a complex world, and to survive you need collaboration between employees, departments, and customers. When companies put a higher priority on technological upgrades instead of creating true value for your customers, you end up working harder in the long run. Always have a customer 1st mentality, when success eludes you, there is no choice but to back to square one!
Keep adapting, we are not built to last, we are built to adapt.