Thursday, April 13, 2006

more non-disruptive disruption...

incremental change: wrong - start over

moderate improvements: wrong - you'll be out of business shortly

too much change: wrong - adapt, rapid change is everywhere, can't handle it, either you'll be replaced by someone who can or the company will be replaced

still today, many companies, their management, staff and corporate culture are on the left side of the argument above. why? fear! fear of losing and "disrupting" the simple existence they have developed for themselves. there's safety in boring numbers, predictable revenues and so before i start sounding like an accountant/consultant from some very large dinosaur where i spend most of my time on the bench as part of a bloated organization, promoting the idea of those boring numbers through some goofy framework, chanting "mega hours billed." i'll stop there.

shareholders don't take well to disruption, "unless" it puts money in their jeans right? so how to be a disruptive leader without erroding consumer or shareholder confidence? hmm well if you're a dinosaur like sears, there's no hope for you. do you think shareholder confidence is shaken when these guys are talking disruption? no way, they're expected to do exactly that, in fact, the market would be shaken if they didn't act with disruptive intent.

sears....what will the retail environment look like in 2031? no idea? didn't think so.

sears....what will the hottest 10 products in 2031 be? once again no idea? yeeeaaahhhh, we're going need you to go ahead and die now, ummmk? thanks. - no, thank-you bill lumbergh will retailers respond to the "next" plugged-in generation? you're dead well before you'll ever find out.

rather than do what many large corporations are doing at the moment, which is turn good people who don't know any better and with no idea on how to innovate into V.P.'s of corporate innovation, you should think about finding the whackiest, most unusual and original creative thinker on the planet, better yet put a team together, search the planet for them and get them out of the office to explore the world's technology innovators that have little or nothing to do with your business today.

then match them up with behavioral scientists and experts in human factor engineering and cut them loose.

rethink sears - think skunkworks? why? because you're already the retailing equivilent to this other dinosaur who I'm ashamed (i own a gm) to say is also losing their war. When regis says "buy american because we can't afford to let gm go under." hmmm it's possibly too late. dinosaurs don't turn on a dime with the leadership that got them there in the first place. that's why they're dinosaurs.

here are some ideas to get you started sears.

hover chair - furniture that hovers on a cushion of air and at the same time filter's the air into fresh spring rain smelling almost edible air, resulting in reducing a child's chance of getting asthma.

nano-fibre upholstery materials, why? why not?

how about tool boxes with some sort of memory material built in that adapts to the tool, holding it in place and can strengthen the tool's structural integrity while not in use.

nano-tube tools, why? why not? too-expensive, how do things too expensive today eventually reach the market....uh innovation!

how about one battery for life for all power tools, corner the power market, it already exists go find it, commercialize it and make it ubiquitous.

garden shed that adapts to the available space in terms of size, with wall material that can morph and act as a green house with a voice command, upgrade with solar power generation technology to power the house.

make the tool box a communications and diagnostics station with phone, tv and wireless internet capabilities built in. or if you like forget the wireless and embed webaroo and allow the home mechanic to surf offline. that could almost be next years killer product technology-wise.

expand the idea with embedded voice activation, the tool box should be able to perform diagnostics on any vehicle within range and report to the owner on the exact steps on solving the mechanical issue along with a list of which sears made tools are missing from the tool-box but are needed to complete the job, then order them for immediate daily delivery on that ridiculously expensive sears credit card account. this would also go for your appliances, you remember those don't you, your lousy service delivering appliances to my home and then how you dealt with your mistake is how we got here in the first place.

how about the sears diagnostic robot?

oh, i know what some of you might be saying, but sears is a retailer primarily not a product developer. i think both sears and i would disagree with that comment and besides do you think that the really cool product developers are going to choose boring sears as their #1 retailer of choice? not on your life, they're not now why would they in the future?

sears...your store concept is dead, there are others out there doing it better and more on the way with retailing concepts that capture the mind, body and soul. no amount of tv shows will turn that tide for you. a complete rebuild is the only thing that will.

any way the point is rather than simply making an attempt to look like you're innovating (sears you don't even qualify here) - commit to it 1000 percent. fire up the disruption engine and hit the big red flashing button for launch...


Michael Davis said...

> rethink sears - think skunkworks?

Agreed, Sears is a Dinosaur.

From my analysis, Lampert may be milking Sears as a Cash Cow. By investing the excess cash in marketable securities, Lampert may turn Sears Holdings into an Investment Company - much like Warren Buffet transformed Berkshire Hathaway. See "The Next Warren Buffett?" in Business Week (11/22/04) for more insights.

As a retailer, Sears may be dead inside a decade. To survive (yet alone prosper) as a retailer, you don't go toe-to-toe with Wal-Mart and Target.

However, if Sears is to continue as a retail operation, Disruptive Innovation is an absolute must.

While some of the ideas are somewhat outlandish - nano ...? So was going to the moon.

Sears needs to create a new business model radically different from traditional retailers.

Excellent Questions:

> sears....what will the retail environment look like in 2031?

> sears....what will the hottest 10 products in 2031 be?

> will retailers respond to the "next" plugged-in generation?

> nano-fibre upholstery materials.

Actually, this may be quite doable. Some clothing already incorporates nano-materials. Companies such as Nano-Tex ( already sell several lines of nano-clothing.

Other innovations are out there. Sears could very well bring them to the masses. It may be their only hope as a retailer.


Michael Davis
Editor - Byvation

waltman said...


Thank-you for your comments.

Should sears holdings be turned into an investment company, they could only dream of Berkshire Hathaway type success, after all there’s only one Warren Buffet. The model seems simple but execution is everything and that’s where sears will continue to lose the race, just as they are today. This is about culture and vision or the lack thereof. Unfortunately, I don’t see a Jack Welch coming around anytime soon to set things straight.