In Canada the month of October brings with it several things. The leaves are changing and by the end of the month usually gone. The weather is turning as we begin the months of cold only crazy people like. However it also brings us Thanksgiving. For most it’s a time to overeat, spend time with the people we love and enjoy some time of thankfulness.
As I reflected a little bit this Thanksgiving weekend I recognized quickly that I had many things to be thankful for; a loving spouse, growing and energetic kids, a career, shelter, faith and good health. Indeed these are worthy things to be thankful for but is merely reflecting once a year really the best way to ensure that I can continue to enjoy the things I’m thankful for today? I looked up synonyms for Thankfulness and one of those synonyms is “indebted”. It doesn’t take long to look at the history of some major business to see where a lack of thankfulness/indebtedness was the beginning of a long a painful journey for them. Some survived after major overhauls (McDonald’s in the 2000’s switching up their products to be more what their customers wanted). Others like Research in Motion are barely holding on.
RIM’s focus was on business customers as they developed a product that serviced the needs of an everyday business person. It wasn’t fancy but it allowed unprecedented connection for their customers. With a Blackberry business people had the “freedom” to do business from anywhere at any time. This simple idea exploded and RIM was the phone for business. It wasn’t long before RIM started taking their customers for granted. They stopped focusing on their customers needs (email and phone calls) and focused on how big RIM could grow. Instead of innovations focused on their customers needs, they began focusing on innovations their competition were using. They started developing phones that were a highbred of iPhones and Blackberry’s. These highbreds were terrible at impersonating both of the products it was trying to. Eventually RIM investors and customers abandoned ship in favor of products that serviced their needs, and actually worked. A strategic mistake that leadership of fast-growing corporations make is taking the customer for granted. Blinded by growth, leadership comes to believe that whatever products corporations produce are unique and indispensable, so their customers will always be there to buy them. After years of exponential growth (at one time out performing Apple) RIM was is now at a crossroads.
Panos Mourdoukoutas says, “While this mind-set (taking the customer for granted) may have worked in the old days when corporations were at the center of the economic universe, it doesn’t apply in today’s world, where customers occupy that position. With a few exceptions, products are neither unique nor indispensable, as competition catches up quickly with fast growing corporations. This means that customers will search elsewhere for value, when corporations fail to meet their expectations or they become greedy.”
It’s great that we can spend a weekend looking at what we have and being Thankful. I would suggest however that if you want to continue to see great things happen in your life, family and business Thankfulness needs to be keystone in your everyday life. When your staff feel appreciated their work will reflect that gratitude. When you pay attention to your customers and their needs you will keep them. When you don’t take relationships for granted they flourish. Be thankful. Your family, customers and friends will feel it. When you’re thankful it’s impossible to take things for granted. When that happens you find success.