Can’t Square A Circle

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Shape sorterThe shape sorter is one of the most popular baby toys. Babies learn about colors, shapes, and sorting. They also learn that jamming a square block through a circle wouldn’t work. The shape of the block must match exactly with the shape on the container.

For the same token, the strategy for a company ought to fit its vision. Borrowing a popular strategy that serves your competition well does not mean that it is a good fit for your business. This is true for strategy, operational processes, business rules, or policies. Unfortunately, many businesses make the mistake of following “best practices” without validating their suitability.

Made-for-outlet Designer Clothing

The goods sold at the outlet malls used to be leftover inventory from the main stores. Many fashionistas found excellent bargains for designer labels such as Gucci or Prada. When the economy tanked in 2008, retailers focused more on tight inventory management. As a result, there was little leftover stock for the outlet malls. Designer labels started to create special lines of clothing just for the outlet stores. The quality certainly is not up to par. The fabric, buttons, and zippers used are of lesser quality. If this is a strategy to appeal to the price sensitive market, it is a bad choice especially for the designer labels. I visited a store in a Seattle outlet mall and found many items from Armani and Hugo Boss. I was shocked to see the poor craftsmanship and quality of the items. They were no where near the quality I expect. The unexpected finds certainly damaged the brand image in my mind. Offering subpar quality products just to capture the price-sensitive market is not a sound strategy for the designer brands.

End of Telecommuting at Yahoo

Telecommuting has become a popular work arrangement for companies. Workers benefit from eliminating commute time, balancing family demands, and saving money on transportation. Companies benefit from higher productivity, lower office overhead, and more satisfied workers. However, telecommuting is not suitable for any type of work. The arrangement is perfect for work that requires little interaction with co-workers and that all the tools and information necessary to do the job are available for remote access. Call centre support is a good fit for telecommuting. Engineering drafting might be suitable for doing the initial set of drawings. Drawings modification is difficult to do without face-to-face interaction. When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to end telecommuting was leaked to the world, she was criticised for going back to the Stone Age. I was perplexed. As we all know, telecommuting is not the only work arrangement that is effective. Why do we want to presume that getting rid of something that doesn’t work is a bad thing?

It is a risky proposition to adopt something without objectively assess the relevance for your business. You can’t square a circle without distorting its shape.

© Connie Siu 2013. All rights reserved.


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