16 Scrumpy as strategic business model
Welcome back! So that was summer? Season of mists more like, and utter fruitlessness if you thought a bit of sun was going to grace this island nation. Is it really all about global warming? Is the grey, listless weather we’ve endured these past three summers in the UK really some kind of planetary retribution for the fact that occasionally we’ve all used a few trillion plastic bags? For having travelled the twelve miles to Granny’s every Sunday in the 1970s in a car instead of walking in shoes made of hemp?
Regular readers of this blog have one advantage over newcomers. They’re not confused by the nonsense that appears here. Like disappointing weather, it’s something they’ve come to expect.
They know that what generally begins as a rant against chavism or Olde English typefaces or mission statements or whistling in public… somehow resolves itself each week into an analysis of the problems that beset our attempts at communicating more effectively in business. Sorry, did I just say beset? Please kill me later.
That would be a pleasure.
Oh hello again, you’re back are you? Voice of the man in the street. Well, here’s a puzzle for you. Imagine that you are for once in a street, walking down a street in a small Devon town. Those hemp shoes look ridiculous on you, by the way. Not a thatched chocolate box dream town, but rather one where every second inhabitant confirms that you have arrived at a Regional Centre for Inbreeding and Obesity. Imagine further that you are passing a pub so notorious for the hallucinogenic power of its scrumpy that the three Environmental Health Officers who closed it down last year are still asleep in the hanging baskets in the square.
So how likely is it that you will find a useful business lesson here? Here on a mucky street outside a closed public trough-house for the rural poor. Against the odds, the banner on the pub wall said simply: “Under New Attitude”. Genius.
And how this relates to business is…?
This is a brilliant example of how it’s inspiration not information that stops you in your tracks. Whoever wrote that sign is someone who understands the power of going beyond the literal and pushing through to the better idea.
Perhaps you’re lucky, perhaps you work for an organisation with a newsletter that isn’t called Newsletter. Perhaps your colleagues deliver PowerPoint presentations that don’t fill the screen with bullet points. Perhaps your manager isn’t a process-driven donkey but someone others talk about, who delivers efficiency yet sees things at an angle and somehow makes people feel a bit of a buzz about work.
Challenging the status quo in business is a commercial imperative. Progress is predicated on the idea of better. Inside businesses, routines get followed, paperwork gets filed, people get the job done. But it’s innovation and imagination that stops customers in their tracks. And gets them banging on your door.
No one queues up to buy an old idea. Take your ipod. Five years ago revolutionary, today not touch-screen? They’re history, man. The crowds are clamouring for newness, and if we don’t jump with them into the wind tunnel of change then our competitors will.
Most companies talk a lot about innovation and do very little about it. One firm I work with has a glass meeting room in the middle of the floor, with the phrase “The Future” etched into the door. It’s not literal, they don’t conduct meetings in spacesuits. But it projects an attitude that says better is different, be motivated, let’s try…
Perhaps we could all benefit from being under new attitude. Perhaps we could think about how to invigorate our team more, reinvent a weak procedure, create more persuasive PR… whatever it takes to push through to the better idea. As always, the revolution can start with you.
Over and out for this week. Remember to stay off the scrumpy. Next blog in a fortnight and fortnightly thereafter. Sorry, did I just say thereafter? Ok, you can kill me now.