Saturday, January 2, 2016

Think outside the box – and I do not mean the “watch box”

That is Barry Hearn's third rule that I have adapted to the watch industry.

4.  Think outside the box – and I do not mean the “watch box”

The watch business is not strictly black and white.  As Mr. Hearn shared about the business of football, you don't work just right handed or left handed - you need a bit of "ambidexterity".  More often than not, there is an unshakable belief that the business is done by certain people in a certain way to achieve a certain outcome.

And here is where I will borrow from Moneyball -

“Managers tend to pick a strategy that is the least likely to fail, rather than to pick a strategy that is most efficient," Said Palmer. " The pain of looking bad is worse than the gain of making the best move.” 
― Michael LewisMoneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Or to put it another way, brand managers and department heads are in some instances so concerned  about being reprimanded (or worse), they will inevitably take the safest route to ensure continual employment.

This is, of course, a recipe for failure in the long term.  I will share the abbreviated story that a friend shared with me back in 2009 -
Meeting with the heads of several of the group's brands, they had outlined a plan to cover the needs of the entire group in terms of a pr/marketing proposal that would double their coverage and cut their expense in half.  The brand heads said that they couldn't make that decision, that only Person X could.

My friend said - "Great!  Let's set up a meeting!"

The brand heads muttered amongst themselves, and looking extremely uncomfortable said "oh, we couldn't make that recommendation.  Maybe you could contact Person X and propose the meeting to present it again..."

The truth was that it wasn't that they couldn't make the recommendation.  It was clear that they were too afraid to make the recommendation.  Moreover it was abundantly clear that Person X had instilled such a fear of failure, and fear in general that nobody in all of those companies would dare to "break wind" without running it past Person X first.

It was an opportunity to think out side of the "watch box" and do something different, but the fear of failure was far greater than the possible gain of making a bold, but beneficial decision.

This is not intended as an attack of the brand managers, department heads, or even the CEO pulling the strings.  All of these folks are just doing it the same way that they've always done it.  And being employed is far better than being unemployed.

It is an open question to the culture of the industry and how things are done.  Perhaps it is time for a little more "outside the watch box" thinking?

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