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Prepare for the unexpected

Imagine that you are a pilot and you have to fly through a 5 mile canyon upside down. It’s actually kind of hard to imagine because it’s not something you’re trained to do but it’s something that could happen in a real life situation. It’s a scenario that’s outside your direct experience, you find it hard to accept it as possible and even worse adapting to it.

Now think about it this way:

What if businesses were judged on their ability to create ‘happiness for customers’? What if all those like buttons had less to do with becoming a fan and more to do with specific actions an organization took to actually make a customer happy? What if you hired people based on how happy they’ll make your customers? What  if there were a ‘customer happiness index’ dashboard (Tweetdeck) and we’d all have access to it just like the stock market? What if businesses were penalized for wasting people’s time?

Imagine how every business would behave.

Same thing right? How can this be possible?

These may seem like outrageous scenarios but it’s definitely something we should be thinking about. As I argued before, delivering happiness is not business as usual, all it takes for things to change is for someone somewhere to start acting differently. This someone is Zappos, and pretty soon others will join their crusade.

This is not a new idea, but it’s been so long since it was replaced by impersonal mass marketing that it seems like new and it has taken everyone by surprise.

Zappos ‘delivering happiness’ strategy didn’t come out of a week long brainstorming session, it came about by the desire to build a company that’s designed for both life and work happiness.

This is a dramatic change from the familiar and it does provide a useful lesson for both identifying and exploiting change:

The importance of recognizing when the system is stuck. In this case the idea that businesses exist purely to make a profit. If you flip that script upside down, other options reveal themselves. Options nobody else can anticipate, strategies nobody can think of, ideas waiting for an owner to call their own.

Just like scripts become obsolete, so to do ideas have an expiration date. Think about what would be the opposite of doing what you currently do, how would that look and what options reveal themselves.

Key takeaway: Prepare for the unexpected and learn to recognize when an idea has reached it’s expiration date because if you don’t, you’ll be caught in an unfamiliar situation.

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