Grade school teachers and high school councilors constantly remind our kids that life is no more than a series of choices. As a manager in the heavy-duty parts and service business, you also have some pretty big decisions as to what you see as the future of your business:
The best way to stay on the leading edge is to look and move toward the fringe of what we know and don't know. This is where the roots of innovation grow. Scientists call this area the "event horizon," like the edge of a black hole.
- Do you (with the comfort of your marketing group) retreat to the perceived safety of your current business processes and look only for incremental efficiencies?
- When was the last time you consciously sat and considered how to build new business ideas that create, deliver and capture value in new ways?
- Will you continue the tired habit of repeating undifferentiated industry "best practices," or do you have the guts to try to create a culture of real innovation to pioneer "next practices"?
- Will you accept disintermediation and continue to allow your business to be disrupted – or will you become the disrupter?
- Do we continue to look, act and behave like the 1990s hierarchical good ol’ boy network that we are, or do we design new environments and renew our commitment to human capital to win the war for talent?
Why are we trying to steer a new course by paying such close attention to the rearview mirror?
A fundamental challenge to our industry is our historical over-reliance on each other for insight. We seem to celebrate regurgitating and repackaging what ‘everyone knows’, rather than challenging ourselves to think different.
Bill Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company magazine, put it this way: “Most leaders are doomed to see things the same way everyone else sees them, because they look for ideas in the same places everyone else looks for them.”
Undifferentiated-box-pushing members of the wholesale industry are unable to generate sufficient cash to fuel growth and innovation, according to research by Georgia Tech's Financial Analysis Lab. Relative to other businesses, these wholesalers suffer intensely from a lack of profitability. In fact, wholesale is the fifth worst of the 44 non-financial industries the lab follows.