Monday, March 30, 2015

McDonald’s Seeks Its Fast-Food Soul

Who would ever believe that an iconic brand/company would run into trouble? Their story could be yours or already i.

McDonald’s is having an identity crisis.... 
…. Same-store sales have fallen over the last five years, and last year the company turned in a miserable performance…. 
…. McDonald’s rivals are winning on taste and image. To catch them, the company might have to sacrifice on speed, which has been its main advantage. And even on that score, it’s not doing so well…. 
...For years, McDonald's has lurched from showcasing new items — salads! Egg White Delight McMuffins! sliced apples! — to mining nostalgia for its basic Big Macs and fries. Its core customers still line up at the drive-through window for cheap, quick cups of coffee and hash browns. But the company is also trying to appeal to more finicky eaters who have moved onto upstart competitors like Smashburger and Chipotle, which market their quality ingredients and food customization.
Can McDonald’s be both fast and bespoke? Cheap and high-quality? (THE KEY QUESTION THAT GOES TO THE HEART OF WHO THEY ARE)..
… Once, McDonald’s was a place where every American ate now and then. But the fast-food market has splintered, like many other parts of the economy, into the haves and the have-nots. Upscale fast-casual restaurants likeSmashburger and Chipotle attract customers who will pay $5.99 for the Classic Smash burger (“handcrafted” and “seared and seasoned to order”) or $6.65 for a steak burrito (“organic and local produce where practical”). The menu might be full of calories, but it comes with a halo of quality. The McDonald’s core customer, on the other hand, is still looking for a break: A $3.99 Big Mac, served fast. In fact, roughly two-thirds of its customers order at a drive-through counter....

… While some analysts have urged the company to stop trying new things and focus on its core burger business, Mr. Easterbrook (NEW CEO) pushed back on that notion at a meeting with investors this year. “To me, he seemed clearly wedded to the notion that they need to try new things to restore growth,” said one analyst who attended the meeting….
…… If Mr. Easterbrook is trying to attract a more affluent, food-conscious customer, he is surely aware of all the ways McDonald’s has already stumbled on that path.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Turning pricing power into profit
Companies often overlook pricing as a driver of earnings growth, instead defaulting to cost cutting and other measures. Here are five steps to growth through pricing.

March 2015 | byJay Jubas, Dieter Kiewell, and Georg Winkler

Very powerful set of tools that is often overlooked

At a time when companies across all B2B sectors are finding it hard to maintain—let alone increase—profitability, the systematic improvement of pricing capabilities can have a lasting positive impact. In fact, our data, which cover more than 1,000 pricing-excellence and performance-improvement initiatives in a range of industries, clearly show that such efforts typically translate into an increase in return on sales of two to seven percentage points, depending on the sector. However, only companies that increase their level of analytical rigor and practical know-how will unlock pricing’s full potential to drive both the top and bottom lines. We believe five steps are essential for turning pricing into a profit engine. 
. Provide meaningful transparency into pricing dataPricing managers often lack a clear understanding of how profitability varies among regions and product lines, and they know even less about how it can vary among individual customers or transactions. 
 Understand what customers really valueFor all the sophistication provided by advanced analytics to master a complex array of prices, the price of a product or service ultimately depends on how much a customer thinks it’s worth—that is, “value pricing." 
Move from sales reps to ‘value negotiators
Determining the best price means nothing if sales reps can’t convince customers to accept it. For this reason, it’s critical that sales reps have important pricing capabilities, such as sound judgment to manage time, negotiate thoughtfully, and adjust pricing guidelines in order to maximize value and minimize the risk of customers defecting
Provide on-the-job training to build confidenceWhile most companies understand it’s important to build the pricing skills of their people, few move beyond basic training in classes or online. Successful companies, however, use adult-learning techniques, such as experiential learning, to embed the new skills in the front line. The most effective programs rely on a mixed model of education and implementation known as “field and forum.”
Change the cultureIn our experience, even the best pricing programs will fail in the long term without a deliberate commitment to overcome the entrenched habits and shifting priorities that doom most change programs. Ingraining pricing success over the long term requires putting in place an “influence model” that includes role modeling, fostering understanding and conviction, developing talent and skills, and implementing reinforcement mechanisms.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bruce Mau

PART 4 (final): The next few postings will highlight these fascinating insights into growth

Don’t borrow money. Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed
Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desir
Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object–oriented, real–time, computer graphic–simulated environment. 
Make mistakes faster. This isn’t my idea—I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove. 
Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique. 
Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else… but not words. 
Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it. 

Explore the other edge. Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old–tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.
Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces—what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference—the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals—but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations. 
Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields. 
Laugh. People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves. 
Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself. 
Power to the people. Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bruce Mau

PART 3: The next few postings will highlight this fascinating insights into growth

____________________. Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others 
Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world. 
Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for. 
Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future. 
Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again. 
Make your own tools. Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference. 
Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better. 
Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it. 
Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight. 
Read only left–hand pages. Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our ‘noodle’. 
Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions. 
Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device–dependent 
Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between ‘creatives’ and ‘suits’ is what Leonard Cohen calls a “charming artifact of the past.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bruce Mau

PART 2: The next few postings will highlight these fascinating insights into growth

Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions. 
Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit. 
Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism. 
Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere. 
Everyone is a leader. . Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead. 
Harvest ideas. Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications. 
Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice. 
Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves. 
Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort. 
Ask stupid questions. Growth is fuelled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant. 
Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Bruce Mau

The next few postings will highlight these fascinating insights into growth

Allow events to change you. You have to  be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth. 
Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there. 
Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day. 
Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

How to Seize the Opportunities When Megatrends Collide

Sorry for missing February…a lot of stuff going on.

Even though you may think your business is immune to these mega-trends, I ask you to REALLY think through the implications--the impact of where these trends intersect can be a source of great new ideas

Business operates today in a world of accelerating change. In the United States, it took 76 years half the population to own a telephone. The smartphone achieved the same penetration in less than a decade. It took France 100 years to double the share of its over-60 population within the labor force, from 7 to 14 percent. China, India, and Brazil will make the same leap in less than 30 years. Due to the whirlwind pace of global forces, a phenomenal amount of value can be created or destroyed more quickly today than at any other point in history.  
The megatrends framework can help any private- or public-sector leader think more clearly about complex external trends, and help develop an ordered, prudent, and proactive strategy for facing them. Its basic building blocks are five historical patterns active in the world today that have left their mark on all aspects of the world’s economic and social fabric. 
1. Demographic and social change: the combination of greater life expectancy, declining birthrates in many parts of the world, and unprecedented rates of human migration, accompanied by a gradual increase in the status of women and greater ethnic and social diversity within most countries.
2. Shifts in global economic power: in particular, the much-noted expansion of prosperity in emerging economies at faster rates than in the industrialized world, leading to momentous changes in consumption patterns and a rebalancing of international relations.
3. Rapid urbanization: the massive expansion of cities around the world, through a combination of migration and childbirth, with major implications for infrastructure, land use, traffic, employment, quality of life, and culture.
4. Climate change and resource scarcity: the rapidly increasing demand for energy, food, and water, in a finite world with limited natural resources and even more limited capacity for carbon dioxide and a wide variety of other effluents.
5. Technological breakthroughs: the transformation of business and everyday life through the development and use of new kinds of digitally enabled innovations in fields such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, fabrication (including 3D printing), cloud computing, and the Internet of Things.
Each megatrend has already happened to some extent. The aging of Western populations, the migration of economic activity toward Asia, the explosive growth of cities around the world, the depletion of forests and fisheries, and the continued march forward of high technology are already part of our experience. This means that they are also destined to interact. They will not just coincide; they will collide, with disruptive or transformative changes rippling out into nearly every industry around the world.