R.J. Stasieczko

Freedom is not a pass to be Disrespectful

It’s 2018 two hundred forty-two years since the American Revolution ended and began the greatest government experiment in history. Our political landscape is no calmer today than it was in the beginning or, through the decades since its beginning. Our nation’s political partisanship seems to be the one consistent thing to maintaining our government. One should fear too much agreement over the peaceful diplomatic disagreements.

It seems that many have blended protest with disrespect then claim that freedom gives them the right to do both. If one has the freedom, they, in fact, have the freedom to protest. However, if one has self- respect, they understand the difference between protest and disrespect. The cost of freedom is always the blood and lives of dedicated soldiers who can’t imagine the cost to society of Freedoms alternative.

We are getting distracted from the argument of disrespect when we attempt to align a disrespectful act with a right of freedom. Yes, one is free to be disrespectful. However, when one elects to be disrespectful, it’s not about freedom it is about them being disrespectful. Our soldiers fought, and still fight and die for the freedom of the repressed, but none of our soldiers fought and died yesterday or, today for others to hijack freedoms purpose in-order to be disrespectful.

"Freedom is a Pass to Protest it’s not a Pass to be Disrespectful in the name of Protest." 

R.J. Stasieczko  

Lexmark’s A4 Evolution is now the A4 Revolution

Today, I declare like the patriots in Boston back in April of 1775, The Revolution has begun. So, let the A4 battle for market dominance begin.

I had the pleasure to share the BEI Services data at the Lexmark Roadshow in Boston. As the Copy/Print Industry continues to modify, BEI’s data highlights some of the reasons A4 equipment is driving much of the many disruptions coming to the print services deliverable.

The battles of this A4 Revolution will be fought in the conference rooms of the complacent, there will be skirmishes between salespeople trying to push yesterday’s technology as the end-user customers try pulling what their predefined needs. There will be sacrifice demanded from service providers as yesterday’s extensive services are replaced by new technologies which are more and more void of service.  

“In the future customers won’t evaluate how good your service is, they will buy products that don’t need service.”

The revolution has been long coming, and many have been hiding way too long behind those “Big Paper Drawers.” This A4 Revolution will cause A3’s mortality to finally see its end. Print Equipment Manufacturers will be struggling as their dealer’s orders for A3, are replaced by the end-user customers’ demands for A4.

Soon dealers will be throwing over the preverbal ship into the preverbal harbor the boxes of old sales manuals filled with old billing models, the parts and supplies from old A3 models, and the boxes of the undeveloped aspirations of production print. Yes, the A4 Revolution has started and those who believe that the oversized systems stand of the A3’S Army will prevail against the speed, agility, and price points of the A4’s Militia, are not listing to the sounds of the cannons as they practice for the celebration when 80-85% of all A3’s are defeated by the merits of A4 Melita.

As many manufacturers continue with their stubbornness in making more of things they want. Instead of making things the end-users want them to make. Organizations like Lexmark can and will seize the moment. Lexmark is not getting sidetrack into assimilating A4 into an A3 world like so many other manufacturers.

The Revolution has started, and there is no going back. The Imaging Channels current circumstances will modify continuously, and there is no stopping the A4 militia, soon the A3 warriors with their big paper drawers will sink to the bottom of that preverbal Harbor called Too Stubborn to Modify.

Don’t fall victim to the disruptor become the disruptor.

“You can be the vendor with the greatest relationships and lose to the new unknown innovator who delivers a better experience.”

R.J. Stasieczko

The Commuter Train

The Commuter Train runs the line, nothing different than the day before. Is your business like a Commuter Train? running down the track of sameness every day. Well, many businesses do just that. They ride the train to sameness as they say, they hate status quo, or how they will never be content by a false sense of security, all the while exclaiming - their business is greater than all their competitors.

Here’s my thinking; So many businesses have already determined their destination, and they already decided what they will see along the way. So, most don’t even look out the window, and today a business who believes they know and can beat all their competitors is totally delusional. Today it is impossible to have predefined your competitors; competitors come from places most refuse to look. Innovative organizations take such advantage of status quo companies or companies who have an arrogance to their greatness.

“Status quo is born when the comfort of sameness replaces the need to explore.” 

As the train stops at the normal places along the route, there is no time to step off the train and explore; there is no time to look on the other side of the small local station that the commuter passes by every day. Like the status quo content company heading in the same direction, they planned decades ago, passing by what they never defined or even care to explore. After all status quo companies have no time to explore the unknown, they are on a schedule to sameness the place they are most familiar. 

If your business is the train taking the same route every day transporting you to a place you defined decades ago. Get off the train! Jump off at the next stop the stop and explore. Yes, explore the unknown whose path is in front of you. Don’t be the business who wakes up and realizes that that train you depended on every day has terminated the line, don’t be the business which when traveling to sameness day after day passed by the best opportunity imaginable because you didn’t allow your imagination on the train.

Today’s innovators are challenging everything that was once decided to be unchallengeable. Today’s innovators do not care about competing by the terms of their competitors. In other words, some organizations believe there; competitors can only compete with them in the way they have prescribed them to compete. It’s these unimaginative organizations who usually get completely disrupted by the new unknown, unimaginable and most uncooperative competitors. So, remember this,

“You can be the vendor with the greatest relationships in the world and quickly lose to the new unknown competitor who delivered a better experience.”   

Ray Stasieczko

Print Services, a Race to the Bottom or a Race for Winning

I  recently attended the Lexmark Roadshow held in Vegas. The theme was winning, and the after-hours fun was driving exotic sports cars at Speed Vegas. Lexmark can win the A4 race and here’s why. Lexmark isn’t listening to the noise of keeping things as they were or temporarily are. Lexmark has always lived in and is doubling down on A4. A4 is the future and those who dismiss this will be left in the past.

It seems amazing the speed of these small footprint output devices. All of which have duty cycles enabling them to replace Tens of millions of A3 devices. While the rest of the manufacturers are racing towards approvals from outdated dealer programs, or have pulled into the pit stops investing in production print equipment the lowest percentage of placements in the market. Production prints deliverable once controlled by one vendor now every vendor is toting their new light production printer thinking it’s as exciting as the Lamborghinis racing around the track in Vegas and as they fight to survive this small market share, they will destroy all possibilities to monetize it profitably. These manufacturers should be creating better A4 products with as few replaceable parts as possible.

The cost for a dealer to move into production print is enormous. The better investment is reinventing your sales and service platform to differentiate yourself. Learn how to deliver cheaper faster and focus on the space the majority of the customers you seek live segments one through four. 

The future will be unimaginable to those who still live in the eighties. The end-users who support the industry are more and more evaluating service as not how good you are when you show up. They evaluate service by how little you need to show up. 

The next decade will completely change print’s deliverable. Everything which is thought unchangeable will indeed change and those in the industry who understand the importance of continuously modifying will prevail. The future will challenge today's leasing strategies, today's billing strategies, today’s sales strategies, and most importantly today’s management strategies.

The new competitors will come from places once thought impossible. The industry must explore and welcome the introduction of ways to monetize print’s decline. Chasing clicks is not the industry’s future. Without the ability to reinvent themselves the industry’s collaborators get circumvented by the new innovator. 

So, my advice to those selling A4 stop competing against other A4’s go after A3 in all segments one through four. The volumes are low, and the end-users acceptance to replace A3 with A4 is growing quickly. The growth of the pull-economy will increase the acceptance of lighter out of the box set up, and service free equipment. All dealers must prepare and continuously modify to maintain profitability.

R.J. Stasieczko

Toys R Us, a victim of Memory Management

“Painting your vision of the future requires the ability to paint over your memories with the paint of your imagination.”

I am sure many have decided, Toys R Us is just another example of outdated marketing strategies. Most have read much about how they refused to innovate. Well, Here’s my thinking. Toys R Us thought they were innovating. They based their marketing and their customer’s experiences on what they believed to be true instead of what the customer knew was true.

The number of organizations or industries who attempt to innovate from their memories instead of their imagination continues rising. Toys R Us is just one example of the refusal to comprehend how their once valuable value proposition has diminished in value. Just because yesterday’s parents used to fill up the minivan and travel to the toy store where their children had a ball running around in the madness of toy shopping. Doesn’t mean their kids when parents or their grand-kids will value the same experience.

“Innovation is not a practice of memory management it’s a practice of Imagination management.”

Things change, and companies don’t. Customer Experience has become a slogan for marketing departments not a reality for customers. When the means to any deliverable changes or is modified by an innovator. Listen to the noise from the legacy way hear their reasoning why the innovator will fail, or more importantly listen to the explanations why they believe the innovator won. You will soon discover those disrupted will describe their memories of why their customer experience is better, and the winning innovator only won because they were the cheapest. Reality check! I think there is a delusional leadership problem when organizations believe being less expensive is a fault or somehow doesn't qualify as a customer experience. Especially for commodity products or commodity services.

Toys R Us honestly believed that the experience their customer had in their stores was more valuable they the new experience of saving time and money buying toys some other way. Toys R Us tried innovating from the directions of their memories. Trying to fit what they wanted into what they insisted their customer wanted. The problem they didn't listen to the customer, and more importantly, they didn't take their lost customer’s advice. The toy buyer today decided that buying from home at lower prices is the better experience.

So, now the Ex- Toys R Us leaders and the Ex-RadioShack leaders drink coffee at Starbucks and brag how their customer experiences were so, much better than well, let's just say it “ better than Amazons.” The problem is their ex-customers didn’t think so causing the ex-customers to outnumber their once temporary current customers. During market disruptions and shifts, companies need to lead from their boardrooms not delegate to their marketing departments in an attempt to temporarily sell outdated value propositions. The one thing every leader knows although not every leader prepares for is this.

“Customers buy outcomes; the means to their achievement always changes.” 

Many industries are or will become victims of disruptive innovations if they continue attempting their responses based on memories. Don’t fall victim to the belief that your outdated value proposition still has the same value. Don’t fall victim to the thinking you are the better Customer Experience because you say so. Listen to your lost customer more than your current customer and imagine what your deliverable looks like without you delivering it.

Once the mind is open to different possibilities, your imagination and creativity will vision new possibilities which were unimaginable to your memories.”  

Ray Stasieczko

BEI Services Business Development Mgr. 2017 ENX Difference Maker

The Lifeguard on Stubborn Pond

Recently I heard someone say, they were there to save an industry! It was at that second; I realized why some leaders in transitioning industries, are much too obligated to yesterday. For some it's not about saving an industry, it's about saving a deliverable or a process which yesterday’s benefactors have become less appreciative of today. Caution!

“During disruptive times self-preservationist may disguise themselves as lifeguards.”     

So, here’s my thinking. It’s not about saving. Just the word itself screams bring me back to life and make what I do last forever. Well, sometimes things must die to facilitate the growth of what will be new. In my mind, it’s not about saving industries being disrupted. It’s about re-inventing them.

There are too many wishful thinkers, unfortunately wishing for the wrong thing. In all businesses the evolution of products, people, and circumstances cause a constant modification process. Let’s stop thinking about how what we do must be somehow saved from extinction allowing us to do it forever. Instead, let’s think about how what we do must modify to remain relevant.

 “If you have to change you waited too long and should have modified along the way.”

Today the world moves so fast that yesterday is history and the future is closer than ever to today. Both agility and speed are needed to survive. In the past, the lease was longer on the vehicles customers used to get the outcome they desired. Remember; “Customers buy outcomes the means to their achievement always changes.” Meaning you must constantly be modifying.

Today progressive organizations are re-inventing themselves and winning against their peers who decided to focus on saving yesterday so they might live tomorrow. During innovation stop thinking about circumventing evolutionary changes or, saving something; stop thinking about how customers benefited by you in the past. Instead, listen to both their voices and their actions telling you what they want from the future.

Customers are not obligated to remain in the past to keep you company. One’s stubbornness’s to the way things were will not survive their customer’s quest for the freshness of a new future. Customers today have more and more options. Stop rejoicing about yesterday while your customers are being invited to the future by new competitors some born there or your old peers who moved there.

Re-invention is the reality of our ever-innovating world. So, stop trying to save an old value proposition and instead re-invent a new one.

In Closing: Beware of the lifeguards on the Pond called, Stubborn these lifeguards are there to save themselves by keeping you from swimming to the future.

 “A company becomes obsolete when they focus on bringing the past to the future, instead of bringing the future to the present.”

R. J. Stasieczko     

Truth or Consequences, In business it’s not a Game

Those as old as I am will remember Bob Barker’s first game show, Truth or Consequences. This article is not about Bob or his game show. However, the title of that famous show is a catalyst to the message.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with a business consultant or business coach as he called himself. This consultant worked in a different industry than the industry I call home. It’s always interesting to explore the thoughts of others too many become static as they live in the atmosphere of sameness. The conversation was intriguing and disturbing. This consultant believed that the truth was not his deliverable he believed that whatever his client wanted to hear he would deliver as truth, and he hoped his client would pay the consequences after he cashed their check.

Either outside my industry or inside I find the weakness of experts, in telling the truth, deplorable to say the least.

Today the industry I call home, and many others must modify as their deliverables become less important to their customers desired outcomes or the fact that some desired outcomes are quickly becoming irrelevant in today’s innovative world. As things modify causing pain to the way it was. It’s a natural reaction to avoid or dismiss thoughts of impending doom. Many will seek the comfort of those they agree with hoping sameness will somehow circumvent the demands of newness, and some will seek help to improve. They will seek the experts in hopes that the investment will allow them to continue winning. Those who hire consultants are looking for a coach to teach and train them to overcome the struggles or obstacles which impede their growth. They're looking for someone to help guide and coach them through the required tough decisions and needed actions.

I remember as a child in school who attempted to participate in basketball. As I dribbled the ball regardless how bad. Those third-grade cheerleaders made me feel great as they cheered at my obvious incoordination or lack of any skills to the game. Well, the coach he wasn’t about to cheer he thought a discussion of why I should practice harder, and how improvement will only come through the application of my willingness to improve. The coach told me what I needed to hear not what I wanted to hear.

It may have taken a few years after the third grade for me to learn that no one should ever pay for cheerleaders they are free. However, coaching comes at a cost. The pain of improvement will always conflict with the temporary comfort in ignoring the truth. Coaches don’t cheer you on to make you feel good when they know you're not trying, Coaches, don’t tolerate one’s lack of fortitude in improving. Coaches don’t change statistics, so your deficiencies look better, coaches will fire those who won’t listen. Coaches want their clients to win, and when the client doesn’t have the desire, and the coach can’t motivate their desire the good coach will always tell them the truth; the good coach will say “this game, is not for you.”

Insecure consultants attract insecure clients. They will sell their clients smiles and take from them the opportunity to truly improve. The consequences caused by these smiling jackasses can be devastating. Instead of helping you clear out the debris on an old path, or lead you in forging a new path. The insecure consultants at the first sign of your unwillingness to do what’s needed they back off and allow you to go on a path of your choice one they know you shouldn't travel. But won't jeopardize their payday by telling you something they’ve determined is too painful for you to hear.

“The pasture of least resistance is where the insecure graze together; this pasture is adjacent to the field of opportunity.”      

So next time you meet with or hire a consultant, remember this. If you are seeking the truth in how to improve look for those who challenge you more than agree with you, look for those who tell you what you need to hear not what they think you want to hear.  “The pain of the tough decision needed for improvement is only appreciated by those willing to improve.”  

The consequences of prolonged stagnation will cripple a company. So, make sure the truth you’re getting is the truth you need not a distorted story of the facts disguised as truth to make you feel good.   

Remember the truth is always better than the consequences of denying it.

R.J. Stasieczko   

My Friends in and outside the Imaging Channel, Let’s Congratulate BEI Services on their 25th Anniversary

Recently I had the pleasure to participate in the BEI Services company trip. Being one of the newcomers to the BEI Family, this trip was a wonderful opportunity to see firsthand the dynamics of how both leadership and talented doers collaborate. It became obvious why BEI is so well respected. They truly deliver to market a SaaS which does what it’s designed to do and does it remarkably through remarkable people.

This BEI Services trip was indeed special; the company is celebrating their 25th anniversary. When a business starts out in the basement 25 years ago and is still thriving it’s an awesome accomplishment so, congratulations to its Co-Founders Wes McArtor and Greg Moseley. The two of them and their talented team have built one of the most influential resources to the profitability of the copier and printer industry, and many are benefiting greatly from its services.

Yes, there have been some attempts by copycats, but there is only one original. BEI Services is the industry leader. Gathering statistics on nearly 16,000 technicians, more than 60,000 service calls a day, and almost 4 million devices. BEI Services trademarked Worldstats™ is the world’s largest monitored service network in the industry. Helping to improve the bottom lines of hundreds of partner's around the world.  

Today the Copier and Printer services industry is going through many transitions. It is more important than ever for its participants (Dealer Owners) to extract as many benefits (Profit) from their current delivery system as possible as they transition to what will be new. At today’s speed to innovation logical business sense tells us that things are modifying fast and innovators are all around the borders of not just the imaging channel they also are or are planning the disruption of many other industries.

BEI Services is the number one software tool to learn from the past then implement and correct behaviors in the present thereby ensuring the much-needed profitability to continuously build and deliver what the future holds.Leaders today must stay vigilant to questioning why things must be improved, and as they answer those questions, they will discover the importance of properly preparing. Today data must be part of all decisions and managing by data is critical to a company’s success in our innovative fast past world.  

“The true test of Leadership is their ability to deconstruct obsolescence, as they construct relevance.”

My career in the Industry is itself 25 plus years. I have witnessed first-hand the many modifications both the Dealers and the Manufacturers consistently made. However, in the past, there was more time to contemplate needed changes. Today the threats are enormous from not only innovators within the channel but the unknown from outside the channel. The speed of being disrupted has increased immensely.

“Products do not build industries People do; products go obsolete, but people have to choose whether they become obsolete.”

Too many are still complacent in what they believe they know which is stagnating their desire to learn what they need to know. If you’re a BEI Services Customer, thank you for your business and loyalty. If you're not yet a BEI Services customer, remember today it’s more important than ever to reclaim inefficient operating cost. The future will be exciting for those who prepare, and BEI Services is working hard each day to help our partners travel through their progression of success.

In 2018 we will be releasing new exciting ways in which our data will help your organization sustain the needed margins allowing you the ability to bring the future to the present. In January we released our Executive Insight Report giving even greater insight to our dealer owners. Understanding how to improve then implementing whats needed takes strong leadership. Today there is no more comfort or rewards in complacency. Dealers must run from those who pitch the everything is fine or create rewards for you based on what you did instead of rewarding you for accomplishing what you need to do. BEI Services has always provided our customers with accurate factual data, in an easy to digest format that is the blueprint for quantifiable improvement.

In Closing; I think this quote describes why BEI Services is so passionate to help the industry we call home.

 “A company becomes obsolete when they focus on bringing the past to the future instead of bringing the future to the present, and reclaiming uncontrolled operating cost provides the needed profit to keeping a company relevant as they transition through an innovative world.”

R.J. Stasieczko   

Relationships, Change in a Pull-Economy

That is my explanation of the Push-Economy becoming the Pull-Economy.” RJS

How will customer relationships change? Here’s my thinking.

In the product pushing sales environment of the past, the customer was sought after, courted and the seller of the product based their customer acceptance on the relationship they created with the buyer. In a Pull-Economy the buyer becomes the hunter the buyer forms relationships based on their experience in acquiring what they desire. A Pull-Economy removes the power from the seller and gives it to the buyer. The Pull-Economy redirects the search from sellers searching prospects, to sellers becoming prospects to buyers. Today choices are easily identified, researched, and acquired so, the need for the pushing of products through outdated selling strategies or marketing strategies of the past is diminishing greatly. The challenge will be for resellers to determine how they respond at the intersection when their products become more of a commodity or are no longer near as valuable to the marketplace as they once were. In today’s innovative world many organizations and industries will find themselves at this intersection. 

Here are a few quotes I penned as warnings to how one’s greatest perceived or actual customer relationship assets can prove to be inconsequential as your customer discovers the new innovator who changed the game.

“You can be the vendor with the greatest relationships and lose to the new unknown competitor who delivers a better experience.” 

 “You can be the vendor who answers the phone in two rings and lose to the new unknown competitor who doesn’t even accept phone calls.”

“You can have been recognized as the markets greatest service provider and lose to the new innovator who redefines how your product is serviced.”

“Today It’s not the competitor we know and believe we can beat that should concern us. We must be vigilant to look to our imagination for the new competitor coming from places which were once unimaginable.”

The passion organizations have of their greatness must be balanced with the reality of how the marketplace accepts the greatness of what they sell. Think about how many organizations believe that the reason for their success is their great relationships. In 2018 this could be a dangerous strategy for the continuation of their prosperity especially if their deliverable is declining in customer needs and appreciation. In these new innovative times, the patience customers used have in remaining in the old way based on great relationships is quickly eroding.“The new way’s momentum is fueled by the old way’s stubbornness.”

Today’s customer wants relevance, and more importantly, they now can seek and define on their own what they determine is relevant. Customers have the tools and the means to seek alternatives to what they once desired with little or no human intervention. Customers are building digital relationships based user experiences, and from their, they determine the value of the human component. Those organizations who can integrate with their customers over interrupting them will prevail. Today it’s not just sales and service organizations who have the availability of data mining to guide a decision processes more and more end-users are preceding their vendors in their own data mining. They are searching for solutions without involving their current vendors and forming new relationships from what they've discovered. 

When organizations or industries are going through disruption, many spend more focus on what I call “Relevance Convincing” They convince themselves and their industry peers that what they manufacture or deliver still has the relevance it once had regardless what the marketplace decided. Instead of investing in diversification or even re-inventing the how of what they do, they instead re-invest, and some even double down in the hallucinations of their past greatness. The pioneer or innovator re-invents the past or brings the future to the present. Innovators bring a new delivery system for the customers desired outcomes. SMB resellers must leave the emotional baggage of yesterday’s marketing strategies behind them. Those outdated strategies which attempt to make relevant what customers themselves have decided is irrelevant or is quickly declining in its relevance.         

As yesterday’s products become more user-friendly and require less and less human intervention, the relationships will continue shifting. Organizations who have lived and benefited by the decades-old Pull-Economy must reinvent their methods of courting customers in the new Pull-Economy. One thing will never change regardless of any economy, and that is this; your “Marketing must come second to your Remarkability and always remember your remarkability is at the mercy of its receiver.”

“Your marketing is about you cheering you; your remarkability is about your customers cheering you.”

R.J. Stasieczko

The Exit Row

I just want legroom, I don’t want to be responsible for evacuating a plane. Do you ever wonder if the people in the exit row paid attention to the instructions; after all those doors don’t open themselves. Why is it that we trust those in charge? Is it a blind trust?

“Crisis Management has no patience for the unprepared or those with delusions regarding the tenure of their temporary comfort.”

Running a business and airline travel have a commonality. They both require someone to take charge and lead the exit when the alarm sounds. Unfortunately, both in the plane and in the business, people are occupying the emergency exit row seats who are not prepared. They never studied the manual, or they are in a dream zone thinking everything will be fine, and some will cower in the corner covering their eyes and ears afraid to even imagine an impending doom. So, I ask, in your business are you prepared? Who will open the emergency exit?

I believe all businesses should have an emergency exit row team. This team unlike those on the plane would be picked based on skill’s, and along with bravery, would have wisdom. This team would understand the importance and value of conflict in leadership, this team would challenge the relevancy of everything thought sacred, and without a doubt, this team could successfully guide the businesses exit off currently onto the temporary safety of what comes next.

Business leaders when was the last time you or your leadership team asked how your business could be defeated? Or when was the last time you discussed your strategy to exit currently? Too many leaders and their subordinates get bogged down in their current comfort of how great everything is. Of course, they seldom pay attention to the meaning of the word currently. They sit around the conference room and talk about how much better they are then their current competition.

Here’s the impending disaster when a business has an arrogance of greatness. Companies stubborn to their greatness don’t know who their competitor is because they refuse to imagine the emergent of the unknown disruptor. They assume their competitor is the same as yesterday, and they refused to challenge themselves or their deliverables current relevance. Unknown competitors come from unexplored places, and they win because the old way has a lack of imagination. So, stop wasting time congratulating yourself on winning against your current known competitor that’s your job. Today leaders must look for the unknown competitor. The competitor who changes the game bringing the new relevance.

“Without the ability to understand how we could be defeated we are at the mercy of those who plan and execute our defeat.”

On the plane, we hope for the best, in business, there is a much greater percentage of impending doom alarms sounding than those on a plane. So, be prepared and have a strategy to exit from irrelevancy to new temporary relevancy your growth will depend on it. In all reality, those who constantly search and understand how they can be defeated will always redefine their growth strategy. A company’s continuous growth is a product of their ability to continuously modify.

“The meetings to cheer our greatness must be balanced with meetings to fear and respond to our possible demise.”

In Closing: Next time you sit in the exit row don’t sit there just for the legroom be prepared to respond when the alarms sound.

R.J. Stasieczko

The Wrecking Ball

Recently while walking through downtown as I looked around at all the modification taking place, it validated my thinking of how nothing remains as it was once intended. The marvelous of technology consistently change our intentions and speed up the tenure of relevancy. Eventually, we need to bring in the wrecking ball and deconstruct the past to construct the future. Many will hope for more time, some will be victims of time, while a few others will continue being ahead in time.

Sears is a great example of holding on to the past betting time can save them. Sears is a victim of their obsolescence caused by their lack of imagination. They continue to hold on to yesterday as they watch all of their resources disappear. They’ve allowed their assets to fade away. Instead, when they were plentiful, they should have used them to de-construct their irrelevancy and construct their new relevance. Their stubbornness to modify is forcing them to liquidate assets to pay their bills; bills customers used to pay for them. Sears lost control of their de-construction, and along with that, they had no relevant architecture to construct something new.

Like the taxi industry, Sears did not listen to the marketplace they instead listened to their delusions of recreating yesterday’s glory. They can not see through their current stubbornness to what they could have been, and now their demise is probable. One would have to ask. If Richard Sears were alive today would Amazon be called Sears? Some will blame the retail apocalypse for destroying Sears. The truth is,  It’s a lack of imagination and their stubbornness in maintaining a yesterday’s marketplace as their customers shop in tomorrows.

Watching the reactions to market disruptions is interesting. Those who can disrupt themselves have more control they understand when to bring in the wrecking ball destruct their obsolescence and construct their new relevance. However too many industries experiencing disruptions are reacting like, Sears they hold on to the past watching their assets deplete. Then there are others who are obsessed with buying more market share of what the market already determined it doesn’t want or doesn't need as much as it used to.

"When a marketplace concludes where the line of growth ends. Nothing can raise that growth line whether based on good intentions, large investments or buying market share through acquisitions; nothing can move the line of growth above were the marketplace decided to draw it."  

All the growth in a declining market is only temporarily borrowed or obtained from those exiting. Only through innovative construction in a declining market is there a path to new revenues and profits. If the acquisitions bring diversification, the strategy makes sense. As an example, why did Sears buy Kmart instead of a software company or logistics company? Why are taxi companies buying other taxi companies? Should they instead be investing in driverless technology or something else their imagination could show them? Regardless of the industry buying more of the same makes sense in a growth market, and buying diversification makes sense when your core deliverable’s market is in decline. When more of your revenue growth is coming from acquisitions rather than customers, it’s time to change who you acquire. Buying customers is easy keeping customers takes relevance, and relevance is the ability to listen to and react to what the marketplace is telling you. The desperation to grow revenue can overtake the discipline to grow profit; especially in declining markets.

We have all heard the saying; “The worst time to go shopping is when you're hungry. You always buy too much, and most of it goes bad before you eat it.”  That is also good acquisition advice.

Amazon’s acquisition strategy will influence the future innovators and cause current leaders to re-think their philosophy of investing in more of the same. Jeff Bezos has taken diversification to a whole new level. Bezos does not invest in something because he’s comfortable with its deliverable, he invests in what the market wants and then gets comfortable delivering it. He listens to the market not the emotional baggage of comfortableness. As this new innovative world continues shorting the life of relevancy. Many leaders will face the decision to call in the wrecking ball to deconstruct their past and construct their future.

“Bussiness Complanacy is the enemy of what could be. It will embed itself in the insecure first as it attempts to confine status quo.”  

R.J. Stasieczko    

Knowing the Cost of Indecisiveness

During the transformation of a business or industry, it’s important to understand both the cost of inaction and the cost to respond. Many organizations plan their path forward they determine a budget, put together a proforma, assign the team and move forward enthusiastically.

Going from where you are to where you need to be is not a journey for the indecisive. Today the greatest test of any leader is how they respond to innovation’s threat. Disruptive innovators using the marvels of technology are and continue to change the things we thought to be unchangeable, or at least we hoped the current circumstances of our comfort would last forever.

As leaders plan the construction of what will be, they must also plan the destruction of what was. During this process, not only do you need a complete understanding of the cost associated with the progress towards what will be new. They must also comprehend the cost associated with any temporary stalling in the what is along the way. In this transition process, leaders will have many opportunities to prove their determination to create and deliver a new order of things. As the leader recognizes opportunities for improvement, they must remember that their greatest responsibility is to the business.

Most will attest a business is a living breathing entity which provides, nourishment, and security to those it employs. When the business comes second to a human, it threats the remaining humans who rely on its stability and wherewithal to provide. There is no greater threat to businesses than indecisive or insecure leadership. You can recognize them when their comfort of complacency supersedes their comfort in leading a new way forward when a new way forward is demanded by either innovation or market conditions.

So, as the organization is moving along the road to a re-invention, restructure, or simply the continuous modification required of all businesses. They must have along with them not only the proforma outlining rewards of what’s to come. They must also analyze and understand the cost and burden of any temporary stubbornness that stalls them along the way.

“Perceived stability is the greatest threat to a company’s willingness to cause Innovation.”

Think about a service industry or business where there is a “Serviceability Transition” A transition were service needs are diminishing through increases in the product’s reliability thereby disrupting the legacy service model. The disruption is that the new product only requires one service interaction to the old products four or five service interactions.

This type of disruption is not uncommon. Think about the Television, think about the everyday appliances used in homes, think about the automobile industry. Now think about your industry. I assure you I am thinking about mine.

“We have become a society of replacing it, over fixing it, this trend continues to affect products once thought would always need repairing.”

The facts are that all products which require a service deliverable will consistently improve to reduce service interaction, and today that improvement is moving faster than ever. The demands of end-users who desire “Service Free Experiences” are growing at record speeds. In the past products were made to break and be fixed. The aftermarket revenue from replacing parts and servicing the product was equal to the revenue from selling the product. However, in most cases, the profit was always greater on the service deliverable. 

“Today Product end-users care more about never needing service than they do about how good your service is.”

As service models modify, the two key components needing the proverbial under the microscope management are Parts and People, or Labor. Parts are easy just realign your inventories. If ever a reason to ensure that there is never more than 6-8 weeks of parts usage in a service providers inventory it’s during a declining market where equipment is rapidly improving, have a strategy to eliminate back stock which matches the strategy to move from the legacy service intensive equipment to the new innovative equipment. Don’t be the last T.V. repairman who had thousands of dollars and a five year supply of tubes in stock the day Televisions stopped using tubes. 

Now comes the hard part, The People. The hardest job of any leader is the responsibility of the people. When workforce corrections are needed and not responded to the consequences can be devastating it jeopardizes the life of the organization. Even with the knowledge and understanding that personnel corrections are needed the pain associated with implementation is troubling. After all, humans are supposed to have compassion, and thankfully most do. However, I must repeat my earlier thoughts “The health of the company is every leader’s greatest responsibility.” Leaders who prepare for transitions must include the human capital implications in their roadmap. In other words, don’t hire more sailors when you know you are replacing your boat with a train. Planning a different future must include a plan for the people as much as the plan for the product. During transitions, the unprepared will try fitting people into positions, and those prepared will have people in positions they fit.

During good times and bad how one prepares for the constant modifications needed in today’s business world will define them. Many organizations will face opportunities which will challenge everything they thought was sacred. When leaders understand the cost impact of indecisiveness, they will respond appropriately that’s what leaders do. In this innovative world, as we elect or are forced to transition along with our proforma describing what we strive. We must also put together a detailed description of what the cost will be if we stall progress with in-action. In-action is an unnecessary cost and will overwhelm the good intentions of what we know must be done.

“In business, good intentions must be balanced with the reality of the importance of profit.”

R.J. Stasieczko