A New Years Resolution Suggestion

Good Morning Innovation Change Agents, IMG_0107

My suggestion for New Years Resolution for everyone who wants to not make 2014 a repeat of 2013 is to make a resolution to CONFRONT REALITY.

The term was suggested to me by Ted Castle, CEO  of Rhino foods in Vermont.

The realization of it's importance for 2014 came as I reflected on a little over a years worth of meetings with the leader of a unique summer theater.

A little over a year ago (Oct 2012) I met with the Director of the Theater and the Board Chair to give them ideas and advice on how to become a non-profit that made an annual profit :).

At the first meeting I mentioned some challenges with the business model.  I suggested that they might want to consider changes to their offering to make it more meaningfully unique.  They thanked me for my suggestions however they explained that they simply had a marketing problem.  Their uniqueness caused some confusion with potential customers.

I then started asking lots of questions - and mind mapped the responses.  After the meeting I did some writing of a new positioning.

In June of this year I attended a reception for supporters of the theater and was pleased to see that much of the positioning had been adopted.   While I was pleased that my writing was being used - I knew that it was not enough.  The reality was that their fundamental business model was broken.  Their costs of production (because of their unique offering) were always going to be too high relative to their revenue.  They needed one or more LEAP innovations in their offering and business model.

At the end of the reception I mentioned the need for a bigger change to the Director.  He nodded - but with the summer season about to begin -- it was not something that was going to happen.

In the fall, I was supposed to meet with the Director however a change of travel plans caused the meeting to be put off until last week.  When the fall meeting was canceled he asked me to give him some "homework" to think about in advance of our December meeting.

The December meeting became two meetings.  At the first meeting I focused, focused, focused on CONFRONTING REALITY.   I did the math of costs and revenue using numbers.  I also "presented" a narrative of the math like it would appear on a Blue Card - defining the VERY IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY.  From this the problems with the business model were exposed clearly.  And with that - an energy to reinvent was sparked.

Over two hours 2 LEAP Innovations emerged that were part of a larger change in business model.   The Director asked for some time to think on them more and if I we could have another meeting before I returned to Cincinnati.  Again, I gave him some very direct homework assignments to think on.

That leads me to the second meeting last friday.  I started this meeting asking - what is the big idea?  Instantly the Director said with clarity the new business model we had discussed - "we are going to change from a theater to a ___________ " .   This set off another two hours of rapid fire inventing.  We did the math - did web searches - made phone calls to experts, etc.   The result of  was two outrageously cool -  meaningfully unique and patentable concepts plus a great trademark.

A quick email to David Laftkas got me the provisional patent template that I forwarded to the Director as his next homework assignment.

As I left the meeting I was in amazement at how far we had come over two meetings.  When I reflected on what I had learned it was to CONFRONT REALITY.  In my first meetings a year ago - I allowed the conversation to float - i'd been respectful and not dealt with the facts and reality of the situation - directly and honestly.  At the meetings in December I forced the Theater group to CONFRONT REALITY.   Clearly they were more open - however I was also much more honest with my feedback.

Confronting Reality means stopping the whining

Confronting Reality means stopping the "wishes" for miracles

Confronting Reality means stopping the "beating" of the workers and the excuses.

Confronting Reality means taking responsibility for the success of your organization.

If you don't Confront Reality - then at the end of next year - you will be in the same place you are at this moment ...

So what are you waiting for --

Up Sluggard And Waste Not Life -- In the Grave Will Be Sleeping Enough

Doug