Every industry has been experiencing massive, fast, and sometimes devastating changes over the last decade or more. Take Lyft and Uber, for example, and how they’ve upended transportation. Or how Airbnb and the sharing economy have disrupted the hospitality industry, or how Spotify forced Apple to rethink its iTunes business proposition. Apps and mobile devices continue to cause major market shakeups as they either change the way people interact with a market or find their way into new markets. And it’s not slowing down, it’s speeding up!
Performance outcomes are directly a result of a sound (or unsound) strategic plan
I recently read an article (third in a series) in the November 22, 2019 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled, “Admin 101: Tips on Carrying Out Your Strategic Plan.” The author, David D. Perlmutter, a professor and dean of the College of Media and Communication at Texas Tech University, readily admits that “one of the great paradoxes of higher-education leadership is that most of us who find ourselves in administrative positions have not studied the kind of work we end up doing on a day-to-day basis. We manage budgets without understanding financial theories. We work with people but never learned interpersonal communication principles. And we carry out new strategic plans without even looking at the research on the relationship between planning and performance outcomes.”
At SAMC, we are rather passionate about the power of Blue Ocean Strategic thinking. In fact, I recently spoke to the Pennsylvania Petroleum Association on Blue Ocean Strategy, and I was reminded how the theory, methods and tools of this unique business growth approach are so timely for an industry like this. On the one hand, consumers expect vendors to provide them with the services they need when they need them, not when vendors can deliver their home fuel or when fuel trucks can re-fill gas station tanks. On the other hand, the petroleum industry has collapsed over the past decade, shrinking from 12,000 distributors to less than 4,000. Clearly, this consolidation reflects the changing nature of the fuel delivery industry.
But it also reflects the trends that are coming next. WaWa is a perfect example: a gas station with high quality food that also sells gasoline. This dual-service model has enabled WaWa to outsell 7-Eleven stores and even McDonald's. Its secret? WaWa realized that people want quality food fast, but don't necessarily need a drive-up or a place to sit down to eat. By redesigning their operations, WaWa's leadership found their Blue Ocean Strategy and out-performed the rest of the pack, which were still competing over having the best gas prices in the right locations.
What the oil and gas industry is discovering: cars are going to be electric or hybrids, now or soon
Starting a company: how do you do it?
Often I get asked, what is it like to start a company? Or, what do you have to do to become an entrepreneur? Or maybe, lessons learned for developing a company? Or something else about being a business builder.
Thinking back, I can’t tell you how many startups I have tried that haven’t worked, or how many times I have been “On the Brink.” It is often easier to talk about your successes, not your failures. But I do have some tangible learning experiences from both successes and failures, and I think it is appropriate to provide you with a list of those so that hopefully, you don’t have to experience the same pain that I went through. Remember, it is a lot easier looking through that rearview mirror rather than facing the barriers in front of you.
A little background
On September 12, 2019, The New York Times published a special section on “Retirement.” One article that really reverberated for me was titled: “My Work Life Is Over. What’s Next?” The author states, “Many retirees do not have a plan” for after retirement. For some with health issues, retirement is necessary, but what about those who are healthy? Are they worn out after doing the same thing year after year and are glad to stop, or does their retirement date just appear on their calendar?
For many years, we have been working with colleges, universities and higher education associations, primarily conducting Blue Ocean Strategy® workshops and implementing branding and marketing strategic plans. And what we've been seeing lately is that academic leaders are finally realizing that they can no longer wait for their students of the past to return. More and more, they're waking up to the fact that if they don’t start implementing innovative, radically new ways of doing things, they may not have a way forward in the not too distance future. In short, they know they have to change.
Therefore, as change experts, we thought it would be very timely to share some of the major developments we're observing in higher ed and the impactful and fruitful ways in which several institutions are embracing change.
Higher education today is at a crossroads.
All around the country, colleges and universities are facing more challenges than at any other time in their history.
Believer in Blue Ocean Strategy®
Blue Ocean Strategy preaches that finding unmet needs is a critical element to continued organizational success. So, if you are a big believer in Blue Ocean Strategy, like I am, here are two companies that very successfully solve unmet needs.
The first is Warby Parker that provides extensive eyewear selection via the web. I am a user of their website, which lets me select exactly what I want in glasses at a reasonable price point. No longer do I have to settle for whatever my local eyeglass retailer has in stock.
I am also user of Harry’s, an online razor blade and grooming company. Great products that eliminate hassle. Best of all, I don’t have to suffer the inconvenience of shopping at a drug store or supermarket for razors.
The same guy co-founded both companies
Imagine my surprise when I picked up the November 2, 2018 Business Section of the NY Times and found out that the entrepreneur behind both businesses was the same person. Yes, Jeff Raider co-founded both Warby Parker and Harry’s. That’s pretty neat. And while I am not sure if Mr. Raider is a “card carrying” Blue Ocean Strategist, he certainly understands the underlying concept of a finding Blue Oceans.
A perfect storm of disconnect: higher education and changing times
At SAMC, we do a good deal of work with higher education institutions. Why? Because we're all about culture change and helping organizations find their Blue Ocean Strategy so they can adapt to what's coming (or in many cases, what's already here). And what we're finding is that today's colleges and universities desperately need both — culture change and Blue Ocean Strategy.
Case in point: If you look at classrooms from the years 1900, 1950 and today, you might be surprised, or dismayed, to see that they are all very much the same. Take a look:
While this antiquated educational system still hasn’t changed much, the world outside is changing faster than ever before. What to do?
Higher education needs to re-think its entire approach
The phenomenally successful book, "Blue Ocean Strategy" by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, powerfully teaches business leaders of all stripes how to "go where the profits and growth are and the competition isn’t." Easier said than done, right?
But even if you know what a Blue Ocean Strategy is, and also if you don't, how do you find this untapped market space where nobody else is? Where prospective customers with unmet needs are waiting for you to help solve their problems in innovative ways? These 10 blogs, podcasts and white papers will show you.
Hopefully they will also spark some Blue Ocean "a-ha" moments of your own and open your eyes to all the wonderful growth opportunities that might be right in front of you...if only you could see them. Enjoy.
I just finished leading another CEO workshop for Vistage, the very highly-regarded executive coaching organization. This was one of Chris Noonan’s groups in Denver, and I think it was my 386th Vistage workshop conducted over the past 11 years.
Next year, I am going to reduce the number of Vistage engagements, for a number of reasons. Yet as I finished this one, I realized why Vistage has been so meaningful to me as someone who likes to share what I know with others and help them grow, personally and with their business. To bring you into the experience, I'd like to share some of the magic of the three hours the CEOs and I spent together in Denver.
Vistage members: eager to learn, explore, dig deep and grow
During Chris's typical introduction, he asks each business leader to tell me about their company, themselves and the hot stuff they are working on. These particular folks were much like other Vistage members but different from our clients at SAMC. They come to these monthly sessions with an eager interest in learning something they can apply to their business in some way to bring about big changes and meaningful growth.