Posts tagged “Trends

Buzzword Rationale (Connect the Dots)

Posted on September 29, 2017


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,…

Peer of One

Posted on September 10, 2016


My team was calculating benchmark comparisons for a client, and I called an abrupt mental break. Really, how similar are these peer companies? Is Ford the same as General Motors? Coca-Cola and PepsiCo? Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citi? Are company components – like people, process, or technology – commodities to be easily transferred? How much of one company would need to be replicated elsewhere in order to produce similar results? Yes, we can compare metrics to identify and apply best practices in domains, but ultimately an organization has its own history, culture and structure at a point in time. It has only one true peer…itself. “…if you want to rework Matisse, you’ll just be a bad Matisse, that’s all.” -Donald Judd It’s similar with individuals. Your specific personality, choices…

Pattern or Prison

Posted on January 2, 2016


I often see patterns in my clients’ (and my own) actions. While mental shortcuts may be helpful to speed decision-making and reinforce comfort zones, they can lock you into unnecessarily tight boundaries. At worst, extremely patterned behavior imprisons thinking, actions and results. Let’s consider three patterns – deferring to planning, precedent or power – that often entrap decision-makers. “What you do as an editor is search for patterns, at both the superficial and ever deeper levels – as deep as you can go…Putting a film together is, in an ideal sense, the orchestration of all those patterns.” –Walter Murch Prisoner of the Plan This prisoner spends an inordinate amount of time setting an overly complex plan, and once it’s set, he never changes it. So much…

Toward Proven Practices

Posted on March 7, 2015


In my first job after college, one of my coworkers kept records of good routines he saw in various distribution centers in the company. He called it his best practice database, and at its simplest it could be used to share ideas across geographic locations. I hear the term leading practice much more frequently today. Are leading practices embedded in processes? Tell me what leading companies are doing. We want to be a leading organization. Both ‘best’ and ‘leading’ are loaded words in the absence of context (best in what, relative to whom, over which time period), and too many organizations expect overly-dramatic results after making a single change to ‘leading practice’ in an isolated area. “In some cases, it doesn’t make sense to be satisfied with the present, when…

CPR Trends

Posted on January 11, 2015


Back to work this past week, I was privileged to participate in a working session focused on trends in the Consumer Products & Retail (CPR) sector. The following may be particularly relevant for consideration: Continued Globalization – As firms continue to evolve internationally, many are using dynamic and creative operating model structures. This applies to customer-facing operations – such as using online distribution in some countries and physical stores, with brand management variations, in others – and back-office operations providing services across geographies, functions or business units. Digital Challenges – Manufacturers increasingly need to manage digital paths to purchase (e.g., porting to retailers), and retailers must redefine the shopper experience beyond the four walls of stores or beyond a single website. Both often struggle with reverse logistics made more…

A View of Consumer Living

Posted on January 19, 2014


  While few people live in constant show home environments, Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century reveals middle-class households closer to chaos. The thirty-two featured southern California households reinforce contemporary consumer trends in the United States that continue to shape living around the world: mountains of possessions, poor eating habits, vanishing leisure time, underutilized space, more screen time and a propensity to personalize. However much we read into consumer trends, we can read just as much into the way we analyze trends. Using systematic observations and other corporate anthropology techniques can often produce a more nuanced and interesting view of reality. Archaeologists usually don’t send out surveys. * Update: More evidence of spreading consumerism, this time in China.