The Goliath's Prophecy by Ivan del Valle, CMBB, CSM, CSPO, ITIL-F - Source below...
“Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.” - Malcolm Gladwell, on his book: "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants".
I always wanted to start one of my writings with the following disclaimer... "This is a work of fiction. Any names or characters, businesses or places, events or incidents, are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental." This article was the perfect one for using it for the first time...
Goliath went late to bed that night. He was tired after having a tough day full of memories from the past. He turned on the TV, and there was a horror movie playing on the ‘Bigfoot Channel’ called “Jack and the Beanstalk”. He immediately turned the TV off, and started to think about all the things that happened during the last couple of years…
He and Cyclops started up a small auto tires shop from his house garage called “FeeFi-FoFum”. It was one of the first shops in ‘1939 Tall Tree Valley Street’, and people admired it for its innovation and culture. “Fee-Fo”, as the locals called it, got its first important contract by selling 200 tires to a company named “WDW”. They grew quickly, adding employees and locations all over around. After a few years, “Fee-Fo” also started selling flowers, and became one of the big names in that business as well. For a long time “Fee-Fo” was synonym to excellent products and customer service.
“The logic of the inverted-U curve is that the same strategies that work really well at first stop working past a certain point” – Malcolm Gladwell
Years passed, and “Fee-Fo” continued to grow and expand. They were good selling tires and flowers, but soon it became pretty evident that selling flowers became their primary revenue stream. One day, a guy named David, started a flower business from his dorm room. His idea was to sell flowers directly to customers, without any intermediaries. He quickly became a headache to Goliath, which at first was on denial that such model would make a dent to “Fee-Fo”. Under the inability of Goliath to effectively compete with David, he one day recurred to what he considered the solution to his problems… He first got rid of the auto tires business, followed by the acquisition of “Paul Bunyan Co.”, which was a big flower-selling competitor. With that acquisition, he became the biggest flower seller in all Jollygreengiantland.
“All progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – Malcolm Gladwell
Eventually, and unfortunately, “David Co.” started to look more and more like “Fee-Fo”, and Goliath started to regain his confidence. “Fee-Fo” started to leverage its size, and to focus on reducing costs at every corner of its operations - including squeezing suppliers and laying off a lot of employees. The “Way of Fee-Fo”, which was the way people referred to the Company culture, quickly disappeared, as well as its innovation. It became an enormous flowers vendor, difficult to manage and control. New competitors started to show up, mainly providing services related to the flower-selling business. Some of them combined flowers with candies, and delivered them in expensive, gorgeous boxes. Others sold the service of keeping fresh flowers at the customer location all the time, without the need to re-order each time, etc., etc. Goliath recognized his weakness on that area (and missed opportunities), and started to acquire companies like “Gargantua” and “Pantagruel” to cover that gap. He spent a lot of money on those and other expensive companies that later on he wasn’t able to effectively integrate. He wanted to be a one-stop-shop for everything related to flowers, and to a good extent, he did.
“Outliers are those who have been given opportunities—and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.” – Malcolm Gladwell
Although “Fee-Fo” was selling a lot of flowers and related services, it started to sell less and less every quarter. Goliath continued filling gaps on innovation by firing people, and through acquisitions (some of them poorly analyzed, and some simply non-sense). “Fee-Fo” continued to grow, and new smaller competitors started to take business away from them. Among them, there were two companies, one called “The Fuit”, and the other, “Jungle”, that in a blink of an eye took a lot of customers from the once-all-mighty Goliath’s empire. “Jungle” and “The Fruit” were unstoppable… For every 20 steps they took, “Fee-Fo” wasn’t able to even take one. “Fee-Fo” became so big and slow that it needed something drastic in order to survive.
“When we talk about analytic versus intuitive decision making, neither is good or bad. What is bad is if you use either of them in an inappropriate circumstance.” – Malcolm Gladwell
Goliath started selling several of the businesses he got from the previous acquisitions, each of them at a huge loss. He also did another desperate move, which was to split “Fee-Fo” into two companies (now formally called “Fee-Fo, Inc.” and “FeeFi-FoFum”), in order to better compete in the different flower-related business segments. Things didn’t stop there, and soon after the split, Goliath announced that he was getting rid of most of the services business, so he can refocus “FeeFi-FoFum” efforts in selling flowers, and investing in the development of something that would “redefine the whole Industry”… Something that he referred to as… “The Flowerchine” (whatever that meant, as nobody really understood what it was). On the other side, “Fee-Fo, Inc.” ultimate salvation (he believed with the most doubtful of hopes), was becoming the biggest vendor in "Multidimensional Flowering Scanning and Making", as well as offering something he called "FAAS" (Flowers-As-A-Service)…
“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” – Malcolm Gladwell
Time continued to pass… Both “Fee-Fo, Inc.” and “FeeFi-FoFum” continued acquiring companies, and selling parts of themselves. More and more smaller innovative competitors continued to erase their market footprint. First came “Bilbo, Inc.”, then “Thorin”, followed quickly by Dwalin, Balin, Gloin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Bifur, Bombur turned on the TV again; and with angry gestures left the room, saying things that I wouldn't dare to write here. And if you wonder... Yes... “Jack and the Beanstalk” was still playing on the 'Bigfoot Channel'...
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"Four weeks in Lyon, France" - The contrast between my lean six sigma training in Europe vs. the Americas' focus the Company finally adopted". (Expected release: 07/11/16)
"Candy, this one is for you" - Do you believe in angels among us? The story of a brief encounter with a very special person that made me reevaluate my perspective on our social responsibility. (Expected release: 07/18/16)
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