Can 1 step backwards take you 3 steps forward? How could your business benefit long term from a short-term loss?
When business goals demand constant driving for the next step ahead. It takes a calculated thinker to take a look at what may seem like a solid benefit then having the foresight, conviction and kahunas to see that you would actually be better off without it.
Sacrifice is at the heart of every game of chess, which is arguably the ultimate test of strategic battle, so why do we view it as such a high risk, semi-aggressive, feather-ruffling blindside that is rarely employed in business?
In an early season of Mad Men we saw how clever it was of Don Draper to throw the Jaguar account away faster than a bottle of scotch in order to convincingly win the highly lucrative GM business (admittedly there may have been mild politics, some embellishment and smooth acting at play here as well).
Lego last week announced it will be disassociating itself from oil giant Shell, who happily pay Lego vast amounts of money to have their logo on kids toys in what assumes to be a cunning ploy to embed itself into young children’s minds at an impressionable age. A viral video depicting a beautiful Lego-made ice cap and soft fury Lego animals being slowly consumed by Shell’s deadly oily sludge was enough to make Lego have a look at it’s long-term corporate image and see that it was far more precious than the few heavy bundles of cash that were being thrown at them. Maybe an oil company’s logo should never have appeared on toys in the first place? Maybe the times have changed to make this seem more overtly wrong? Maybe it’s another reason why everyone should be re-evaluating what are liabilities posing as assets? Everything has an opportunity cost.
Exclusive brands are the kings of this thinking. By charging exorbitant prices they are in effect sacrificing the mass market. Take a brand like Rolex, they are flat out ruling out at least 99.5% of the market for every product they design before it even hits the shelves. That’s because they know the other .5% will love them for it and gladly pay their toll to be disassociated from the common folk. A nightclub is another perfect example of the benefit of sacrifice in play. Notice that you only find the queues out front of the clubs that won’t let people like you in? Kind of makes you want to go in doesn’t it?
The traditional business approach when it comes to clients and customers has always generally been “the more the merrier”. However, in some cases it may be wiser to ask yourself some tough questions. How many clients do you have that are preventing you from gaining better clients? How many adequate staff do you have that are preventing you from finding exceptional staff? Like I said, these are tough questions. But maybe it’s time to ask them?
It’s understandable for the thought of sacrifice to take on a perception of loss. But, when you think about it from a strategic perspective, whatever time or money resources were being spent, can now be spent on something else. Wherever you have made a gap, there is now a brand new opportunity for something great to be put in its place. It all depends on where you want to go and how quickly you want to get there. Sometime, somewhere, there may be a sweet flipside lurking that’s just dying to be entertained.