I Bought Something At JC Penney

Less cluttered aisles. “I’m getting the best price,” feeling. Seemed to be a change in mix, but I really wouldn’t know. ‘Cause it was the first time I had bought something at JC Penney in several years, best as I can recall. I like not having to deal with feeling I’m getting gypped just because I don’t have a coupon. Lord knows I won’t go into Bed Bath & Beyond without my mailer for $5 off. They give me the feeling that if I don’t have a coupon I’m paying too much. The way things were priced at JC Penney made me feel warm and fuzzy. The categories – everyday, monthlong values & best prices – felt like a promise that tomorrow I wouldn’t regret the deal I got. The store I was at felt perkier. Livelier. It made the product seem better. The shoe sales folk were available and … Continue reading

Sustainable Business: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

I just clicked ‘checkout’ for a few pounds of Dean’s Beans. Haven’t tried them before, but wanted to after hearing Dean Cycon, CEO of Dean’s Beans and author of Javatrekker: Dispatches From the World of Fair Trade Coffee, speak tonight at Indiana University. “I don’t believe social justice is a formula, I believe it is a process.” Passionate and positive, he shared his ideas on how socially responsible business practice and respect for quality of life can help change the world. Sustainable business is all the rage, but efforts at many companies seem to get holed up in the marketing department or as purely charitable exercises. I asked Dean if he thought large organizations could change over to the sustainable thinking his company emulates: “For a pre-existing large scale organization it’s hard because people are already in there looking for profit. […] However, when a corporation starts out and says these are … Continue reading

Scenario Planning As A Spur To Entreprenurial Thinking

War games, contingency planning, thought experiments all provide potential glimpses into the future that can help distribute knowledge, test reactions and improve flexible thinking. I’m a fan. So it was with some interest I noticed Business Horizons’ recent issue on entrepreneurship included a paper that strongly argues scenario planning not only prepares a corporation for external disruptive events, but it can improve an organization’s overall entrepreneurial capacity. Scenario planning has long been used to prepare for emergency events. Since the 9/11 terror attacks corporate use of scenario and contingency planning increased from 38% to over 70% of executives surveyed, again primarily as a means of preparing for external disruptive (exogenous) shocks. In the article, Beyond risk mitigation: Enhancing corporate innovation with scenario planning, William J. Worthington, Jamie D. Collins and Michael A. Hitt, show that “advanced use of scenario planning can help firms go beyond innovative responses to more complex … Continue reading

Global Winds Driving The Uncertainty-Paradox

No matter how local your business appears, global forces are going to trip you up if they haven’t already. A corollary – all local markets will feel the impact of international competition and technological change. If your job doesn’t disappear into a digital vacuum, it very well could be centralized in Ohio or Korea. Or decentralized everywhere. Toss a coin. People in high places are thinking about you. You can either view the coming disruptions as opportunities or tidal waves. Welcome to the Uncertainty-Paradox, it’s not just about big companies. It’s about you. Innovation is a personal enterprise, part of life-long learning that builds value in all different sorts of ways. For example, folks generating creative output are under some of the most visible pressure to change business models. This is true whether you are a large studio/publisher or one person art studio. It’s very uncomfortable, but not unexpected. Changes … Continue reading

Are You A Business Uncertainty Explorer?

Sounds of the sea. Columbus stands on deck, referring to parchment, sextant and sky. First Mate: “Columbus, what’s that solid blue piece of paper?” Columbus: “That’s my map!” And The Crew Sings: “We are lost, we are lost, we are lost…” The Columbus in this sketch from my days in college radio goes on to say that none should worry, “for we’ll draw the land bits in as we find them.” When you live in the Uncertainty Paradox you are a Business Uncertainty Explorer. Much of what we do to manage business uncertainty involves collecting and sifting data about consumers, competitors, trends, politics, technology – the list goes on and on. You can look at each bit of data as incremental detail that needs placing on your planning Map. Each ‘sighting’ (LAND HO!) adds to our understanding of the economic and marketplace landscape. Comments in the introductory Uncertainty Paradox post … Continue reading