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At the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, there is a display related to Project Kansas, the ill-fated 1985 New Coke initiative.  If you look closely in the display case, you see project documentation rife with military references:

Project Kansas is a bold-stroke attempt for total victory. It is a sweeping effort to redefine the selling proposition, not just for sugar colas, but for all soft drinks.
In its size, scope and boldness, it is not unlike the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944…

And so it goes for buzzword rationale. Apply military jargon to inspire victory, discipline and coordination. Mention dot-com and Y2K in the late 1990s to trigger technology spending. Later, connect risk management initiatives to the Enron scandal, local economic disruption to Walmart, and innovation to Steve Jobs. Now it’s digital, demographics, and the Amazon effect. And of course, sport analogies seem to never go out of style. (I’m sure some pseudo-intellectual merchant in Ancient Rome skipped out of the Colosseum readying a fresh motivational speech based on some unique gladiatorial combat strategy.)


The caution is the generic trend doesn’t justify the specific initiative. And some unrelated military factoid doesn’t adequately demonstrate how, why or when to do something. To influence sustainable change, we must connect the dots more directly than buzzwords. Align 1) a specific external trend to 2) a relevant application philosophy in 3) a meaningful way that produces value, with 4) proof points along the way? Now that’s rationale to follow.

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