business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

No doubt you’ve heard this one before: two hikers are in the woods when suddenly they realize a bear has their scent and is tracking them. As one hiker kneels to put on running shoes, the second scoffs saying that even with sneakers there’s no way to outrun the bear.

The first hiker responds, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.”

Increasingly, that’s a scenario every company needs to consider. Think of the news you constantly read here and on countless other sites. The world of business is changing and changing really fast and like it or not, you need to change with it.

So certainly, when you read about Walmart’s idea to have employees deliver parcels on their way home from work you can find many potential flaws in the plan. There are insurance issues and labor costs. And let’s try to imagine the staggering reality of Walmart’s 1.4 million workers (that’s just in the US) dropping in on homes across the country.

But then again, it might give the company an incredible way to address last mile costs and connect their associates to customers and communities in a new, different and personal way that drones can’t ever match. In truth, we really don’t know. The idea could be brilliant or it could be folly.

At least it’s an idea.

In contrast, take a few minutes to read the Washington Post Sunday profile of the enormous missteps made by Sears as it traveled the road from retail dominance to apparent irrelevance. It’s a laundry list of botched business decisions that eroded the great company’s brand.

But it also examines an endless series of missed opportunities that could have made Sears today’s Amazon. In a lot of ways, it was yesterday's Amazon.

Let’s be clear that we are all so smart about Sears or Radio Shack or any of the other failed operators out there because we are blessed with hindsight. The problem with today’s - and tomorrow’s - competitive battle is we obviously don’t have any clue what formula will work.

And that’s why all kinds of ideas need be considered and possibly tried. There’s incredible value in the effort, even from failed ideas. More than ever companies need to open themselves to a range of idea sharing efforts both internally and with trading partners to find creative steps to the future.

Most may not work, but some might. In contrast, doing nothing is a guarantee of defeat.

Remember, there’s a bear out there. In fact, more than one. Lots more.'

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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