“You’ve been eating Toblerone wrong your entire life” — Independent, 9th February 2016
“You’ve been eating Pringles wrong this whole time” — Huffington Post, 19th April 2017
“26 foods you’ve been eating all wrong” — Mashable, 3rd August 2014
There’s even a show, presented by The Sporkful’s Dan Pashman called “You’re eating it wrong”.
Either we’re really bad at working out how to eat processed foods, or negative headlines such as these are effective at grabbing our attention. So let me try this one on you:
“You’re doing business wrong.”
Is that an article you would click on? I’m not sure. Perhaps the negative reaction to such criticism is too strong. Perhaps you would dismiss it immediately?
Doing things differently
This is my dilemma. Because this, at its core, is the argument I am trying to make. That you, and everyone else, is running their business or organisation wrong. Unlike the foods, perhaps you haven’t always been doing it wrong. But times have changed and you need to change with them.
The point is this: since the industrial revolution, the main mantra of business has been about optimisation. Yes. we’ve had cycles of creative destruction, but they have been measured in decades. Between those cycles the daily focus was on optimisation. Doing more (revenue/profit/service delivery) with less (cost).
Now those periods of stability in which you could focus on optimisation might be measured in months not years. So aligning your objectives to optimising your current business makes no sense.
Digging a rut
Worse than that, it is dangerous. The more optimised your current business is to today’s conditions and customers, the less scope it has to adapt. You risk becoming a specialised tool for a task that is no longer relevant.
Now maybe this doesn’t matter. Maybe you know your business has a limited lifespan and you want to extract as much as possible in that short space of time. But I don’t think this represents the majority.
If you want to build a sustainable business then you have to have one eye on what’s next. And that means building a business that is adaptable. A business that is tuned into market needs, and capable of responding too them.
Some of you are no doubt doing this today. Just as some people were already eating their Pringles upside-down or snapping off their Toblerone by pushing it into the bar, not away (yes, that was the big secret that secured millions of views). But in my experience, most people — and most companies — really are doing it wrong.