Windshields or Rearview Mirrors

Posted: December 21, 2009 in Economy, Innovate

My professor (yes, I’m in school – long story) provided a bonus question this week.  “How would assess your successful innovation on an absolute basis and in relation to your competitors?”

Innovation?!?!  In this economy?!?!  Who has time?

The companies and organizations that lead have time.  In turbulent times you must have moorings — what are yours?  Southwest Airlines is one of the best performing stocks from 1972 to 2002 — throw in 9/11 a couple fuel skyrockets, yet they remain strong while the rest “wanna get away”.

Right now, if you panic or are paralyzed in decision making (aside from what to cut or discontinue) then you’re destined for the losing end.  18 companies that survived the last depression are still operating today — model them (I think they might have what it takes).

Jim Collins said, “people who take credit in good times and blame others and external forces in bad times do not deserve to lead.  End of story.”

Bottom line is OWN IT!  Own your own success (and failures), instead of waiting for the proverbial gold watch, position yourself with opportunities to buy your own.  Where are you spending your time?

So back to my prof’s question — absolute basis was a real long answer, and I gave myself a mediocre rating yet looking to bring some fire back.  In regard to competition, my answer was that we are our own largest and most significant competitor.  I monitor what other providers, networks are doing and their market share, however I prefer to spend my time looking for the next curve rather than have to react to it or play catch up.

Catch me if you can — I’ll out-serve ya, out retention ya, out grow ya — bring it, cuz it only makes me better (my high school English teacher would kill me, so let’s call the slang poetic license).

There’s a reason the windshield is larger than the rearview mirror — focus more on forward than what’s passed (or at least do it in proportion to your windshield and mirrors).  The fact that objects appear smaller helps (at least in the left mirror) helps.

Be remarkable not replaceable.

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