“I think it’s more essential to innovate through a recession, and certainly
what we’re trying to do at P&G is to continue to bring sustaining and even
disruptive new brands and products for our consumers, to make their lives
better, to offer them a little more value.”
A.G. Lafley, Chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble
In What do these three products have in common?, I mentioned that Andrew Razeghi, adjunct associate professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University wrote a provoking white paper on innovation. Razeghi encourages seven points to implement in times like these:
- Listen to the market. It’s quieter when it’s less crowded. Unmet needs abound.
- Invest in your customers. Now they need you most. Loyalty hangs in the balance.
- Rather than reduce price, offer more value to your customers and demand greater value from vendors.
- Increase communication with your customers.
- Move longer-term projects forward not back. Now is the time to grab market share.
- In recession, not all costs are created equal. Maintain or increase investment in “good costs”; prune “bad costs”; use judgment on “it depends costs”.
- If you don’t have the money, at least spend the time.
In my view, the economy resembles a tide: innovative opportunities to serve customers are a lot like shells on the beach--you can see a lot more when the tide goes out.
Innovation and relevance go hand in hand. Consumers seek value now more than prestige. Frugality is, once again, a 'high virtue'.
We, as humans, measure things all the time. For instance, the difference between the expectations we had yesterday and the expectations we have today: If our expectations are lower, we engage fear. If our expectations are higher, we embrace the pride of self-reliance. Recessions can be times of fear or times of joy, depending upon what we believe is our source. If we honestly believe God is our source, fear takes a backseat to joy during downturns and self-reliance turns to thanksgiving during growth times.
The Frogs and the Tower
Once upon a time there was a bunch of tiny frogs who arranged a running competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower.
A big crowd gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants. The race began but no one in the crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. You heard statements such as:
"Oh, WAY too difficult!!"
"They will NEVER make it to the top."
"Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!"
The tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one, except for those who, in a fresh tempo, were climbing higher and higher.
The crowd continued to yell, "It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!"
More tiny frogs got tired and gave up. But one continued higher and higher and higher. He just wouldn't give up!
At the end everyone else had given up climbing the tower. Except for the one tiny frog who, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top!
All of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it. A contestant asked the tiny frog how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal.
It turned out that the winner was deaf.