On the flight home from a business meeting last week, I thumbed through the book Risky is the New Safe – the Rules Have Changed by Randy Gage. While much of the book is inflammatory by design — with some pretty blatant attempts to promote anxiety in the reader — there was one page early in the book that resonated with me.
The author refers to an analogy presented by Dr. Ken Dychtwald (self-described as a visionary on lifestyle). He notes that most companies spend their energies trying to chase down the elephant: shooting arrows at it rather than working smarter and more proactively. Dr. Dychtwald suggests that it makes more sense to run out in front and dig a big hole instead.
While simplistic, it does paint a very vivid picture of how companies can improve their odds of success. Sometimes you have to change the rules. Much has been written about disruptive technologies – perhaps it’s not so much disruptive, as it is ordinary thinking applied in a less than ordinary way.
That is the thinking behind our travel trailers. While traditional thinking narrowly suggests that customers have to attend a trade show to see your wares, Clearfield took it a step further. We decided to bring the tradeshow to the customer. Last year, our two trailers traveled nearly 100,000 miles visiting customers. Our clients and prospective clients actually got to touch and feel the product in their own backyard. In the end, this new approach proved to be very successful.
We’re just bold enough to think that it’s this kind of forward-thinking that separates us from the rest of the herd (of elephants).