Archives for posts with tag: Structure

Many books have a beginning, a middle and an end. An introduction with an outline, a body and a conclusion. They tell a story. You start at the beginning and you work through the end to follow the narrative flow. This is true for works of fiction and non-fiction, or business books and leisure books.

Occasionally, a book is a collection of self-contained, separate topics that don’t fit into this conventional format where the narrative hangs the content together naturally. I’m coming to the end of the drafting stage of a self-help book I’m writing. It’s more than a hundred different ideas around a very broad topic, loosely arranged into 4 themes. Each idea fits into the typical length of blog post that I’ve been writing for the past few years.

The challenge – without the guiding structure of a narrative flow – is arranging and presenting the ideas in an order that works for the reader. I could present each of the themes in turn, but that might appear uneven. Or I could sprinkle all of the ideas randomly, but that might appear disjointed. Alternatively, I could go for a mixture of the two approaches, but I might not be able to build momentum to get the reader to the end.

I’ll get to the bottom of how the book will hang together, but it’s an interesting challenge.

 

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“There are no competitors”. I used to be fond of saying this, especially in previous industries I’d worked in which were fairly commoditised and definitely got the thin end of the Porter 5 forces wedge. These industries were also fiercely competitive.

My point was really this: There are no competitors, only potential partners or customers.” There is always a possibility of working with someone rather than against them. It’s more productive, and better for the collective, greater good. Of course, one of my reasons for saying this was to re-position my company, and de-position the opposition, by making such a statement, implying that we were different, unique even.

To an extent this is similar to the process of challenging the status quo. When you can look at things from a fresh perspective, and frame the place where you compete in a different way, then you reframe your market, you create fresh categories for yourself and you forge a unique set of dynamics where you are the lynchpin or fulcrum around which everything revolves.

When you can do this, your competitors melt away. There are no competitors; only you exist in this space, and your value enhances accordingly.

 

 

We’re constantly hearing about entrepreneurs or leading companies that challenge the status quo and look for new ways to do things. This can often give them an important edge in the market, which inevitably takes the competition time to identify and address.

Challenging the status quo is easier said than done, however. It takes a certain mindset which needs to operate in two dimensions. The first dimension is that you have to be able to think outside the box, to use a battered cliche, to be able to eschew the standard assumptions and accepted situations. The second is that you need to be able to do it a lot, and ideally all the time.

I was reminded of this some months ago when helping to prepare some messaging around a certain market, which included defining that market and how that market was structured. A couple of the senior individuals were in the team and I was struck by how differently and more expansively they were able to view the market they operated in, and hence how they could position their company in a more different and more beneficial way.

They simply brushed away the assumptions about how the industry was structured, assumptions I had wrongly taken as the pillars for how things worked in the industry.

It’s obvious that the role of senior executives is to be looking over the parapet far more often than other staff who are more siloed, specialist, operational, or tactical. But, that said, it was refreshing to see people who took a professional approach to questioning everything and thinking deeply about what they could and couldn’t move.

As you can imagine, visionaries are far more able to see everything as movable. For them there is no status quo.