How to Keep Your Business on Track in a World Gone Mad

Humans are irrational. Yes, we’re capable of being rational, but for the most part we go with what “feels right.” 

We love novelty, but cling to familiar. We’re hard wired to seek out newness, but fear change. We travel to new, exotic places only to spend our time in a familiar hotel (with a Starbucks in the lobby).

We love the excitement of new, but we don’t really want it to hurt us. This is why we like new to be wrapped in cozy blanket of safely familiar.

New also brings complexity. Complexity brings surprise. Surprise is good for a thrill, but it’s usually bad for a business.

New rapidly evolving tech is bringing a lot of surprise to businesses. Tech is coming together like water droplets, creating entirely new, easier ways of doing things (i.e., Zoom, Uber, AirBnB, etc.), and bringing shifting consumer expectations with it. Ignoring this trend can be dire for a business (or an entire industry).

We can see this playing out with self-driving cars. Some companies are working to deliver self-driving cars, while others are working to add self-driving capabilities to the “cruise control” feature, and others still are ignoring the trend altogether. Which do you think will win the most car buyers?

To accomplish this a business needs information. It needs listening posts. Listening posts are measurements that let you know you’re hitting the mark for your customers. They also serve as an early warning system that alerts you when something’s not right. A well-tuned system tells us exactly where the problem is. Without it, we can only guess as to why business is off. Without really knowing, most of us would double-down on what worked in the past, which in the case of market shift, only makes the problem worse.

There are three things we need to do for our business to survive:

  1. Embrace the change, even if it means reinventing our business
  2. Know why your best customers choose you
  3. Find a way to lean heavily into those aspects in the new paradigm

It was Peter Drucker who said, “What gets measured, gets managed.” In my experience, the opposite is also true, “What isn’t measured, isn’t managed.” This is not to say we need to start measuring everything. Patrick M. Lencioni warns, “If everything is important, then nothing is.” 

Finding the few listening posts that tell us where to apply our limited resources is key.

Also, this kind of information is like pastries, best consumed fresh.


Feature image by: Skydive Andes Chile

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