Way too many businesses are just trying to get by when they need to commit to being remarkable, extraordinary and world-class. They aim to do just a bit better than last year…and if they do, they’re thrilled. They’ve lost their passion, they have no commitment to excellence and they have no Vision as to what an extraordinary future needs to look like. 

I’m old enough to remember when TV sets had dozens of large tubes inside instead of the compact electronic wizardry of today’s TVs. The tubes were tucked way inside under the massive picture tube…and they burned out frequently. As a kid, we had two TV’s and the repairman was at our house a lot.

To solve this problem, Motorola Inc, one of the market leaders at the time, came up with a design innovation that they believed would assure them of market domination for years to come. They put all of those tubes and the base into which they fit into a glide-out drawer that made their TV sets easier to repair. 

Unfortunately, they didn’t aim high enough. While they were creating a TV set that was now easier to repair, Japanese manufactures started flooding the market with TV’s, made with transistors, that never needed to be repaired…and Motorola was doomed.  Many businesses are working to improve a business model that’s basically doomed.  They need to rethink and reinvent or, to use the current word, they need to ‘pivot’!

Stop playing it safe.  Stand out…aim higher. Be ‘famous’ for something! It has been said that the world-famous Canadian architect Arthur Erickson never built a building that didn’t leak somewhere.  But he was always pushing the envelope, always creating extraordinary structures and, in the process, he made a few mistakes.  His buildings are spectacular; they uplift, inspire and make emotional connections with people.

If you build ordinary, boring square building that look ugly and destroy the soul, they probably won’t leak….but they’ll damage us in other ways. We lived in an Arthur Erickson-designed condominium building for several years, and it did leak a bit here and there. But every day, it uplifted us and enriched our lives.  So, when you go for ‘extraordinary’, you may mess up a bit, but people will still love you for making a difference in their lives.

As an award-winning fashion retailer, I offered massage chairs for husbands, a pirate ship play area for kids, free diapers for young mothers, free beverages for everybody and an invitation to “Please take as many items in the change room as you wish”. We were the only retailers in the world doing any of this stuff. It was a heck of a lot of work to pull it off, day in and day out, but women drove up to three hours to shop in our store.  They loved us, they told their friends and our sales were three times the national average.  

What will you do this year in your business to ‘aim high enough’?  Here are a few different ways that you can take your business to the next level:

  • Create and effectively communicate a clear Vision that will inform, focus, challenge and inspire everyone on your team.
  • Aim high in design, quality, innovation, or delivering extraordinary customer experiences. And then how communicate your compelling value story in an over-served and under-differentiated marketplace.
  • Create a culture of clarity, urgency, joy, respect, inclusion, and accountability. Search for team members with talent and passion and create a culture that listens. 
  • Commit to your customers, to your team, to the environment, and to the bottom line.  Measure your performance and deal more effectively with non-performance. 
  • Improve operational efficiency by setting clear and high standards of performance and implementing the systems, processes, and technology to make it happen.

So, what would ‘extraordinary’ look like in your business? What has never been done before?  What would truly amaze and delight your target customers, and what will you commit to do to become that? What will you do this year ‘aim higher’ in design and innovation; in marketing, customer care, branding and profitability? In creating world-class efficiency and in managing and engaging your Team?  Or, will you be doomed by not aiming high enough?

Source: Donald Cooper