Guest post: Do you challenge the status quo?

Ian Mash of Yeoman Consulting helps us to continue the theme of ‘practical ways to help your business life” by sharing some of his experiences of working at the coalface as a senior manager in one of the UK’s largest companies – BT.

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How many of us get up to do a full day’s work, and then conform to the expected norm?

Most of us I suspect, but the key to competitive advantage is to continuously challenge the norm, continuously challenge the status quo.

Think of the new and successful products or brands that do just that. Look at EasyJet. Who would have thought, 20 years ago that we would all be flying around Europe for £20 a seat, and that whilst we had to give up a free warm gin and tonic and a handful of nuts, we now accept a cheaper price and ‘what you see is what you get’ service.

BA certainly didn’t.

Look at Apple’s continued success based on innovation…the Ipod, and the iPhone. OK some of the ‘apps’ are pretty trivial like the beer glass one, but others like the SatNav one are powerful and have started to really shore up the niche.

Look at Mark Copeman’s idea of challenging the status quo of the training world with The 8.45 Club, a great idea to keep up to date while you’re having that first cup of coffee. (Ed-Thanks Ian) All of these are about challenging the status quo, getting an edge and most importantly asking ‘Why?’, the world’s most powerful question.

Why do we do things that way?

Why can’t it be done this way?

There are big inhibitors to that ‘why’ question in most companies… “because we’ve just spent £x million on a new system to support the process’ or “because that is how we built the business doing it this way”, but the competition or new start up doesn’t have that inhibitor when they’re looking for their edge…so it’s important that you challenge the status quo on a regular basis, if you’re not going to be playing panic catch up on your competition.

Interestingly that got me thinking about the question “what is a strong brand?” I remember being asked this by my marketing tutor and answering that “it was one I went to because I recognised it”. A torrent of sarcasm ensued and he drummed it into me, that a strong brand was one which one someone was prepared to pay more for.I’m sure BA comforted themselves on that mantra when Easyjet sprang up. In my view, they are both strong brands and plenty of folk still use BA… but Easyjet certainly doesn’t fit the definition of my old tutor.

So, maybe a strong brand is about being clear on the price for the deliverable and being consistent with that deliverable. Any way you look at it, it’s a challenge to the status quo.

Ian Mash will be back with more pearls of wisdom in the next couple of weeks and can be contacted on +44 7860 621976 and via email at ian dot mash1 at btinternet.com
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