Don’t Let Your Paradigm Keep You From Being Successful In The New Economy

Don’t Let Your Paradigm Keep You From Being Successful In The New Economy

“Usually the first problems you solve with the new paradigm are the ones that were unsolvable with the old paradigm” – Joel A Barker

When I talk to people about this “new economy” and establishing an online presence for their business, invariably the comment comes up…

“I have left it too late – there is too much competition, how could I make a difference now?”

Well, if you also feel this way, consider how is it possible that companies like AIRBNB came from no-where to being a major global disrupter that has unsettled the industry in just a few short years?

Airbnb, established in 2008, is a website for people to list, find, and rent lodging – it has over 1.5 million listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries – they do not own property!

Incidentally, I noticed that the Marriott Hotel Group had announced today, their acquisition of The Starwood Hotels and Resorts, making it the largest hotel group in the world – could it be that AIRBNB is disrupting the traditional hotel industry causing these responses?

Marriott, established in 1925, is a traditional hotel group with over 4,200 properties in 79 countries of which post the Starwood acquisition, will have over 30 different brands and over 1 million rooms – they own a lot of property!

In some reports, the developing countries across Africa and Asia who are increasing their presence in this global digital market place, are often mentioned to be having a significant impact that is yet to fully play out. I have also seen some of this first hand in my own Fair Trade business, where I work with many micro startups from these regions and I can certainly say how much this is transforming these communities.

But regardless of where you are, or how small or big you may be, or your experience online, the opportunities for everyone globally are significant and we are just at the beginning of this paradigm shift.

So what about you?

What can you do to have a piece of the action, if that is what we can call it?

Firstly, you need to believe that there are significant opportunities – this is about you or your business addressing your own “mind-set”.

Next, you need to model success.

Finally, you need to ensure you do not become complacent with your own success and this is about managing your own paradigm.

Mind Set

It is often said that as human beings, we are so efficient that we can find any form of justification to support our beliefs. What you need to do is to seek information and evidence that can start to challenge those belief of yours that are no longer serving you.

For me, several years ago I was attending a conference which just so happened to have several successful entrepreneurs speaking. After three days and meeting many different people, I started to challenge my old corporate thinking. This then lead to me going on a journey to “re-wire” my brain.

You need to do this too, if you want to be successful in this new economy.

Model Success

For my businesses, I have been monitoring very closely the industry leaders of my targeted niches for several years.

I have opted into these “leaders” newsletters, I have downloaded free reports and I have spent thousands of dollars buying their products that range from live seminars to one on one consulting.

I have done this for two reasons. First, to obviously acquire the latest skills and technologies but secondly and importantly, to identify what are the best practices that these “leaders” are using.

Remember, success leaves clues!

Now I will not mention names, but I have been able to “reverse engineer” many of these “leaders” businesses operating models and the insights from this exercise have been quite astonishing. You see they made me realise that a lot of it is still trial and error – but the methodology if I can call it that, is a continual process of testing and feedback.

Do you think it is possible for you to adopt a similar strategy for your business in which you are continually testing, seeking feedback and fine tuning to get a better outcome the next time round?

I would suggest to you that this is a key aspect of being successful in this new economy – so you should consider doing this as well.

Beware The Paradigm

The futurist, Joel A Barker, who wrote the classic book, The New Business of Paradigms several years ago, introduced to more mainstream readers the concept of paradigms in business, citing examples such as the rise and fall and re-invention of Kodak and of course way before the likes of AIRBNB.

However, the danger of paradigms still exists even in this new economy.

You must be wary of your success as it can lead you to justifying your behaviour of complacency. This will be your blind spot. So make sure you are continually scanning your market place but also across industries for new disruptive business models than could change your world rapidly.

So who will be next after AIRBNB?

Will Marriott somehow reverse engineer AIRBNB’s success and come back to strike a decisive blow?

We obviously do not know the end of the story as yet but we do need to recognise that change is a constant of this new economy. It is not for the feint heated – but if you strike it head on, the opportunities will open for you.

From High Street To Cyberspace – Case Study

From High Street To Cyberspace – Case Study

“Helen, check this out!” Kenny says with urgency.

“Helen! You have to see what they are up to now!”, Kenny says with even a greater sense of urgency.

“Who Kenny, who are up to what?”, Helen answers.

“You know, those guys I have been telling you about, the ones that are copying what we do in our online business”

“Let me see” Helen responds back to Kenny.

“You are so right, it looks like they have a similar catalogue, but wait look at this…. Wow!” Helen says as she leans back into her chair.

Have you ever had a time when your competitors absolutely wowed you like they just did with Helen?

You see Helen Lee runs a fashion business that had its roots in retail stores in high streets across London, but has recently expanded into an online portal where her business is now starting to sell and ship to clients globally.

Her high end fashion label garments are sourced through family connections in China which she traditionally imported in to the UK, but she thinks it may be possible now to ship directly from the factory in China. That is if she can get all the moving parts working together. But the presence of this direct competitor in her market is stressing her out. They seem to be moving very fast and gaining a loyal following, well so it seems at least.

Transitioning into new business models is not easy.

It requires planning and of course doing things differently. Particular it is a challenge when there are new entrants into your market that seem to be re-writing the rules of business – the very same rules that your business once wrote in the old days of bricks and mortar!

So what can be done? How would you help Helen? What advice would you provide her?

Would you tell her to get out of high street shops and concentrate on online only? Or would you suggest she needs to keep doing what she is doing currently, a dual strategy that crosses from tradition to the digital economy?

Well we are probably sure of one thing, within Helen’s extended family, she is likely to be getting a lot of advice, but where to start first?
Helen however is a very smart and successful business woman. Its just that she is faced with a new challenge. So she decided to do something that she did when she first set up her business years ago and felt she should revisit this again. In fact, she reflected on that it should have been something she routinely undertook because it was likely that if she did, she would not be in the situation she is in today.

Helen called her key managers in for a meeting. She said there was a need for “time out” and she explained to them their predicament. She asked them to consider this over the next week, where they would spend a full day, or more if they have to, together brainstorming ideas, but also looking at their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – yes that’s right, a whole day doing a SWOT Analysis!

Would you have suggested to Helen a similar activity?

Perhaps, perhaps not.

There is an interesting concept known as the Contingency Theory of Change, in a nut shell, it just means there are many varying factors so that one response for one situation gets a certain type of outcome but repeating this same response in a different context can get an entirely different outcome. As for Helen, clearly she understood an “intervention” was required and her business acumen drew her to more objective analysis of the situation by using a strategic planning tool such as the SWOT. Helen was also astute to know if things had to be turned around, she needed all of her team to be on-board as well.

We will follow up on Helen in a future post, to see how the workshop and the SWOT Analysis went.

The key message though, is that we can get off track very easily in business.

Our best intentions are there and we think we are doing all the right things and working very hard at it, but then the rules change and if we do not respond and sometimes respond fast, well we will be out of business.

Many years ago Joel Barker wrote the book “The Paradigm Shift” . At the time he spoke of companies like Kodak and Swiss watch makers and how they had to re-invent themselves.

However, the paradigm shift today is probably more relevant, considering the speed of these shifts and their global impact. You do not have to go far when we think of the new economy businesses today like Uber and AirBNB and how disruptive they are to the markets they are in.

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