It was an amazing two days. The level of openness, sharing and cooperation was something I’ve rarely observed – especially as the three organisations involved were in exactly the same industry.
Last week I was privileged to be asked to facilitate this meeting of minds. The organisations are all in the design and construction industry (I won’t reveal exactly what they do), but suffice to say, they’ve individually been in business somewhere between 18 and 29 years. They employ between 50 and 80 staff each, and jobs range from $40,000 to 600,000 in some instances.
In the room we had the owners and their key department heads.
Now I should point out that the three organisations while in an identical industry are each in completely separate geographies; Sydney, Perth and NZ, so are not direct competitors.
Over two days we went through sales figures, sales systems, marketing, operational systems, HR issues etc. Very much opening up the Kimono and revealing all. Nothing was off the table.
Divisional groups broke out, asked for and received help from their peers where necessary. Documents were freely shared and ongoing connections established.
In short everything that should happen in a well established mastermind group. Except for one potential trap which I’ll get to in a minute.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the mastermind concept, it was coined by Napoleon Hill in his classic book, Think and Grow Rich.
Essentially masterminds are a small group of like-minded advanced talents who meet periodically for mutual brainstorming/accountability sessions. No one ever becomes truly successful on their own. It takes a team and varied input and support from a wide variety of people. A mastermind can provide this input and hold members accountable to their promises.
Barbara and I have, both been members of and run various mastermind groups over the years and they have directly contributed to our success. The main reason being we were exposed to a huge variety of different businesses and their methods.
One of these groups cost us over $1500/month to belong to, and that didn’t include the expenses involved in traipsing around the country every 3 months for meeting. And it was worth every penny of it.
So these three organisations should be applauded for coming together. It’s not cheap bringing together 21 people from around the country and NZ.
So that was the opportunity. But what was the trap?
Jay Abraham, arguably one of the world’s greatest modern marketers puts it simply.
The greatest innovation in any established business comes from taking ideas from a completely different industry and adapting them to yours.
The risk with any established industry is everyone tends to do things the same way. They all use similar marketing, sales and delivery systems. And they often copy each other.
Now I’m not for one moment suggesting they didn’t have good ideas and some had excellent processes in certain areas that absolutely should have been copied.
But having personally worked for 20 years at the big end of town in technical, sales and executive management roles, and then over the last 12 as a business, marketing and sales strategist helping small to medium sized businesses in over 25 industries rapidly grow, I could see specific areas that could be improved by taking ideas from completely different industries and implementing them.
Implementing a better qualification process, “live” customer satisfaction surveys and guarantees are just some that come to mind.
While my role was to “facilitate” their discussion, as a business growth consultant, I’ll admit I do like to inject ideas for improvement. Ideas we’ve implemented in many other organisations of similar or greater size, which have seen revenues in one case (and corresponding profit) go up by 283.3% in 3 years, or others which have become leaders in their field while most of their competition has gone to the wall.
Some ideas were taken on board immediately, but I was amused by some of the “it won’t work here”, “or it’s too difficult”, or “our customers would never do that” comments.
Nothing I haven’t heard before.
I know new concepts and ideas about how to do things can be confronting. It can take considerable time before a completely new idea starts to get any form of traction. So my suggestion when presented by any new idea is not to immediately reject it, but “put it on the back shelf of your mind” and every now and then, take it down, look at it again and see if something’s changed.
You might well be surprised at the new insights you get if you allow yourself the processing time.
Which reminds me of a story about an old Zen Abbot with his young novitiate. It was the novitiate’s first “day on the job” and they were having a ceremonial cup of tea.
The Abbot was pouring – and kept doing so until the tea overflowed the cup and went all over the table.
“But Abbot, the tea is overflowing, no more will go in”, cried the young novitiate. “Yes, I know”, said the Abbot. “You are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
And so it is with your business. We all have blind spots. We do the best we can. But unless you empty your cup, nothing new can come in. And you will be the poorer for it.
So here’s my offer.
Check out our “Two Heads Are Better Than One – Business Performance Improvement Program” below this article.
This program is a short, sharp intervention allowing you to experience the “mastermind” benefits of having an experienced business, marketing and sales strategist working alongside you.
Enrol and I guarantee you will gain insights and new ways of growing your business. Implement them and you will see your revenue and profits increase.
Call me on (02) 9499-7958 and we can get the ball rolling.