Where Are You On The Relevance Curve?

Posted: by Clayton Oates

Did you know that we are all on a “Relevance Curve”, where the products or services we are providing are either moving our businesses towards (or away from) Peak Relevance to our customers or clients?

Businesses have a lifecycle and there are various phases that exist within the life of a business, the same applies to the products we sell, suppliers we support, customers we serve, industry associations we belong to and even the countries we live in.

Australian researcher Michael McQueen in his brilliant book – “Winning The Battle For Relevance” articulates how to identify where you are on the curve, together with the early warning signs of impending business disaster and how to recalibrate your business
before it’s too late. It’s fascinating and enlightening research and identifies what many businesses are experiencing right now given the rate of technological change impacting businesses and professions around the globe.

When we start out in business there’s a Tipping Point when we realise that the products or services we are providing actually have a market, you remember that first sale and the excitement that people actually want what you have got – that’s your Tipping Point moment.

However things change at a Turning Point, which is the precursor to Crisis and if not addressed you’re heading towards the Tanking Point, which signifies the end of your businesses relevance. However if identified early enough you can come back from crisis avoiding the Tanking Point by re-calibrating and continuing your business journey on a new found relevance curve.

What business are you in? A famous example is Kodak, even though they invented photographic film and the digital camera the business still failed, Why? Essentially they forgot what business they were in, thinking they were in the product manufacturing and distribution business – when in actual fact they were in the memory preservation business. The failure to adapt to changing trends in the way society captured and shared their memories contributed to their demise.

So what business are you in? Is your current product or service range defining your business? After all no one ever wants our products or services (seriously) – they actually want the solutions we provide – So what problem are you solving for your clients and customers?

An industry currently in crisis is the Taxi industry. I recently caught a taxi from Sydney airport and the driver was complaining about the Uber impact. So I asked him why he thinks Uber is succeeding. Without any hesitation he said “Because the customer likes Uber and we (Taxis) aren’t giving the customer what they want” (Bingo).

So what does your customer want? Has their need changed and your solutions stayed the same? Are you reacting to the competition just as the Taxi industry, first ignoring, then criticising, next condemning, then attempting to copy (with a me too product) or are you truly innovating?

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