First, do some harm

The Hippocratic Oath states that the most important thing in treating a patient is to be sure that you do no harm. That’s probably a very sound medical practice, but as a business strategy it does far more damage than good.

If you are going to move from being a product or channel centric enterprise to putting the customer at the center of everything you do, you are sure to upset plenty of managers that are looking to preserve their merchandising, e-commerce or brick and mortar division fiefdoms.

If you are going to pull back on broad-based promotions in favor of more targeted offers, you may lose some short-term revenue or upset some of those promiscuous shoppers who only buy from you when you give your product or service away.

If you are going to shift media dollars away from your Sunday circular or network TV advertising into social and mobile media, you are going to get push-back on the lack of demonstrated ROI in these emerging channels (not to mention lots of angry agency account types calling you to preserve their business).

If you are going to invest in acquiring and growing new customer relationships with high lifetime value–or to create and grow entirely new areas of business–you are going to punish your bottom-line for a few years and have to fend off short-sighted investors or protectors of the status quo within your own organization.

I’ve worked for three companies that said they wanted to develop meaningful incremental sources of revenue. Yet most of the time we failed to sign up for the intermediate pain of getting there.

Somewhere out there may be someone who successfully completed a marathon without a rigorous training schedule. So if that’s your plan, good luck with that.

For the rest of us, we have to do the work.

So go get those eggs. Start making that omelet.

One thought on “First, do some harm

  1. Hi Steven, nice post here. I was always frustrated that large companies focus on achieving predictable results. I guess that is because managers (who are not leaders….they manage) are rewarded for achieving what they project. Therefore, they are punished for being too bold…because that carries a significant risk of failure.

    Small companies can not afford to be risk averse. The predictable outcome of their actions is business failure. They have to swing for the fence each time they come up to bat. That is the only way they can win and live to play another day.

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