Where have all my customers gone, why is my business not moving forward? Maybe if I just wait here, sit it out, they are sure to come back?
How many times do we see this approach in retail these days whether it is a large retailer with strong market share, or smaller retailers on the embattled high street struggling to find a new way to be sustainable. Being complacent is a sure route to failure.
I would like to share this book with you all. It is a wonderful book which is as relevant today as it was when it was written 20 years ago. It is less than an hours read but the thinking will stay with you forever, or at least it should, and we guarantee that within a month you will have recommended it to your circle of influence if they have not already read it.
It is the lovely story of two little people and two mice who all operate in a maze in the search for Cheese. The mice search with energy through a process of trial and error and seem to enjoy the journey along the way going out everyday in search of cheese. Whereas the little people are limited by their complex minds which are filled with their beliefs and assumptions.
The story moves on and describes how the little people once they have found their cheese become relaxed, complacent and lazy believing arrogantly that the cheese they found was well deserved and rightfully theirs and they can kick back and relax and search no more.
The mice however on finding their Cheese maintain an agile approach monitoring the cheese everyday and being ready for action if anything were to change.
Then one day the cheese was gone! What do you think the little people and mice did. Well the mice put on their joggers and went in the search of new cheese and kept going until they found it, which they did. Whereas the little people remained where they were with a belief that the cheese would return, which it didn’t. Only when it was too late and the little people had grown irritable, tired and weak did one of them decide to do something different.
We all know that consumer behaviour is evolving quickly, in fact, it has never moved as quickly as it is now and it will probably never be this slow again.
We can see household name retailers struggling and many of us can probably see the link between the Cheese story and their businesses, just change the words from “Who moved my cheese” with “Who moved by customers” and the lesson here is as consumers pursue the least line of resistance in their purchases, or adjust their behaviour, the importance to understand your customer and move to capture them has never been so critical.
The journey that the little people from the story went on was “we should just sit here and see what happens, sooner or later they have to put the cheese back”…to…. “we keep doing the same things over and over again and wonder why things don’t get any better”…..they eventually asked themselves…”Maybe we need to change and do things differently!”......and finally they realised “why didn’t we get up and move with the Cheese”…..hopefully learning the important lesson to change and always be on the lookout to do things different. Take action to cause re-action.
I am sure that many businesses are working on adapting what they do in this changing market but it does feel sometimes that the decisions are either taking too long, or maybe the execution is just lacking. Either way when change is required is needs to be acted on fast and implemented with excellence to win these days.
We all need to move with the cheese.
There are many learnings through this book but at least let’s highlight the main one………….Things change, evolve and move all of the time, like the Cheese did in the story, be agile, brave and quick to react to a change in direction.
So when your cheese is starting to go off or smell a bit, put on your trainers and get jogging.