These Are The Top Three Reasons Benchmarking Is Not Good For You And Your Company

Benchmarking has been a buzzword for four to five decades now. It came into its own in the years when TQM (Total Quality Management) was the only gospel truth on how to become the best. The Japanese had taken over the world and for America and Western Europe to catch up; they needed to benchmark the best of what the Japanese were doing. And who propounded and continue to propound these ideas? You guess right, the big boys: BCG, Bain, Accenture, PWC, McKinsey, KPMG, Deloitte, Gemini and the rest of them.

Benchmarking 101 simply says get all the metrics how your best competitor is doing and compare to your performance. Wherever you perform worse, that’s the gap. Pronto you’ve cracked the code. Take immediate action to close the gap and you can be as good as them (your competitor) or even leap frog them. They backed up their presentations with elegant two by two graphs (process visuals as Alan Weiss calls them) and CEOs looking for ever more expensive quick fixes would jump at the recommendations and their treasuries would be the poorer for it.

Tell me, if benchmarking is really this cure-it-all antidote to lackluster performance (the big boys would deny they said it was a cure-it-all), how come Kodak did not benchmark its way to survival? How come Nokia could not benchmark its way to success and beat back Apple and Samsung? What of Motorola that invented the cellular phone technology and Xerox that taught the world how to copy? Why couldn’t the bluest of the blue, with all its technological wizardry do it, and had to send John Akers to the labour market? Beware, the elephant cannot dance unless and until it decides to dance by changing its genetic code.

So here are the top three reasons why you should never touch benchmarking with a ten-foot pole if you really want to be great, break new mold and render the competition irrelevant.

1. Benchmarking ignores the culture of the better performing organization
This is the mother of all reasons why benchmarking is a fatal flaw. Assuming you’re Intel and the Japanese are eating your lunch, what do you do? Do you go on a retreat and benchmark the Japanese to blow them out of the water? Do you call a town-hall meeting to sensitize everyone about the Japanese’s threat and quickly form quick action teams (QATs) to benchmark the Japanese to prepare the way for your glorious comeback? Do you send your top executives to Harvard to learn benchmarking at its best in order to form a groundswell movement that would make you invincible overnight? No! No!! No!!! You do what Andy Grove, Robert Noyce (and Gordon Moore) did. You fire yourselves and start all over again. Remember, only the paranoid survive. You cannot beat the Japanese in head-to-head combat because the cultures are different. Period! Have you not heard that culture will eat strategy for breakfast?

2. Benchmarking looks at the future with the rear-view mirror
Assuming you’re IBM and you’re the world’s most admired company and teased as the Big Blue, and you hear two small boys are fiddling in their mother’s garage and they say they want to topple IBM. Do you postpone your board meeting and send spies to see what the boys are up to or do you benchmark? Benchmark what? Benchmark Apple I or Apple II or iMac that don’t yet exist? The Big Boys would deny they ever said that you should benchmark under such circumstances. But didn’t they say benchmarking was the alpha and omega of the competitive tools? You will never see the future with your rear-view mirror even if you’re a magician. The truth is, when there is disruption (air travel disrupted sea travel, computer disrupted typewriter, gun disrupted bow and arrow, etc.), everything is reset to zero so no amount of benchmarking can save you. We live in an age of discontinuity, thanks to Peter Drucker, and when discontinuity catches up with you and your industry, benchmarking is foolhardiness of the highest order.

3. Benchmarking ignores critical thinking and cannot help you invent the future
The best way to own tomorrow is to invent it. Benchmarking cannot help you do that. Benchmarking is actually antithetical to reinvention. The most revolutionary inventions of our time were or are never the products of benchmarking but critical thinking. Think of products as mundane (now) as paper, post-it-note and light bulb, to mention three. These things never existed before until people’s imagination brought them to be. To invent the future, you start with a clean slate. You ask simple questions like, “why does this work matter?”, “what purpose does it serve?”, “why this (and not that?” These sort of questions enable you think critically, go deep and invent tomorrow while others are busy benchmarking and playing catch-up with the supposedly best companies.

There you have them, the three reasons why benchmarking should be avoided as the plaque: benchmarking ignores the culture of the better performing organization, benchmarking looks at the future with the rear-view mirror, and benchmarking ignores critical thinking and cannot help you invent and reinvent the future.

If you look closely, benchmarking is at the heart of the so-called, international best practice(s) in industries across the globe and who are the proponents of these “best-of-class” concept? The big consulting powerhouses! At best, let me concede, benchmarking can help you make small incremental (additive) progress, but that is not what you need. What you need is exponential (geometric) progress. Now that you have read the top three reasons why you should never do benchmarking, don’t waste time with benchmarking. For any new project you want to initiate, start with a clean slate. Yes, reinvent the wheel. Remember, Apple reinvented the phone with the iPhone, Starbucks reinvented coffee houses, and you can reinvent yours. Go and do it.

Will China Replace the USA As the New Superpower?

China Socialist Empire has grown enormously strong since 1949 and many are wondering if this mighty economic giant will surpass the United State in the near future.

The rise of China economy is startling, consider that China hold the number three spot in power on the world stage next to Russia, which include the number one ranking GDP, which has surpassed the United State plus its transparency and influences are increasing, therefore, it is impossible not to be aware of its presence. Furthermore, the Yuan has become the third reserve currency next to the US Dollar and Euro.

The Chinese Yuan is as a strong contender against the US Dollar since they want to enforce more control over their economy, there is a push to make sure that their system of money become globally accepted. This drive may be to cement itself, as the best replacement of the US Dollar as the universal currency. The recent news that Venezuela is now selling oil for the Yuan instead of the US Dollars doesn’t sound so good, plus rogue countries that are suffering under a sanction imposed by the west are using the Yuan as a tool for survival. Furthermore, the number of countries with close ties to China have been conducting their trade and investment under the radar with the Yuan, they are Russia, Germany, Sweden, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia and Canada.

Today 1.3 billion citizens of China are experiencing a better standard of living and many have risen to prominent status, recognition, and power. Its strong growth has increased the number of self-made High Net Worth Individuals and they have overtaken the United State with the most Billionaires at 637 to the United State 342. Their Diplomatic Public Relation skills that are utilized seem to have made a big impact with other countries far and wide, which has made it become one of the most favorable country today.

Meanwhile the United State seems to resemble a shadow of its former self, even though it still wield external economic and military might, however, its influence and respect seem to have gone warm and its image has suffered a steep decline among its allies, plus its favorites is at all-time low in countries such as Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. The American Dream appears to be fading due to the decline of the economy, and its prospect become difficult for the youth of today to access a better standard of living than their parents of former days, according to an article published in Eureka Alert, by the America Association for the Advancement of Science. Meanwhile the Pew Research Center, state that, there are few adults in the middle and upper-income bracket, but there are more occupying the lower class.

Today international investors are becoming more concerned about where they place their investments.

They observe that Washington has not yet passed a budget, nor enforce credible action to pay down their creditors’ bills. Which is viewed as an unsafe heaven for investment and that is not good. Lately, the United State has been conducting financial sleight of hand by moving money around in order to ensure that they do not run out of cash. They have borrowed approximately $19.8 trillion, where one third of this amount is owing to itself, $6 Trillion from Major Foreign Holder of Treasury Securities, which include foreign countries, companies and individuals, $1.1 Trillion is owed to China and the same amount to Japan plus the balance of US citizens and business include local and state Government. It’s still an amazement to see that the International Credit Rating Agencies, Moody and Fitch gave the United State as three “A’s” credit rating, while S&P gave an AA+.

Moody the International Credit Rating Agency has downgraded China credit rating to A1 for the first time in three decades, this is seen as a setback and this action has angered them, meanwhile S&P and Fitch rated China A+. China economy has surged up for the past 18 years but seem to be cooling down slightly, but in spite of all this, it is still seen as a favorite place for investment than the United State include most countries today.The economic outlook for China remain stable for 2018.

Recent news coming out of China, state that during 2018, there will be a move to ensure that a more sustainable and in-depth way is utilized in order to increase high-quality development that will enrich global prospect, according to the Chinese President at a high profile meeting. This move will be enforced to transform in a more intensive way in order to deliver more prosperity for both China and aboard. This is the news investors love to hear.

Prospecting Made Easy

Today’s message is very short and sweet… well maybe not so sweet but short for sure… and hopefully helpful to you.

We’ve all felt the frustrations of trying to get good clients. Heck, trying to get new clients period can be a real challenge.

So today I wanted to share a few ideas that have worked for me…

Start by making a list of who you’d like to work with. Think: “Who’s my perfect prospect?” If you could hand pick any client, who’d that be?

This could be connections from a past job, or business associates that you know and who like and trust you or a vendor who you’ve done business with in the past. As a last resort you could put together a “cold list” of prospects.

Study that target market intensely and find out what problems they’re dealing with today, who are they (male, female), how old they are, what magazines they read etc.

Learn all you can about your perfect prospect and the marketplace in general. This is a critical step. This is very important step and should done before you start your marketing message. I know that I’ve talked about this many times, but it’s super important.

Once you have a target group in mind, create a mailing list. You’re going to be sending them numerous messages, offers, and various messages over and over until they become clients, so I suggest that you put these names in a program like Excel so you can keep up with them easily.

Study the competition and learn what they’re doing what offers they’re sending out, go to their websites, landing pages, and direct mail etc. This way you can position your business uniquely.

Once you feel you have enough “intel”, create a lead generation letter and send it to your prospect list.

It’s going to take more than one letter. I like using a letter series sent over a couple of weeks. Sure, you can sometimes close the deal on a single letter but it’s very unlikely. The power in direct mail is by mailing several letters not just one.

So, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a response on the first letter you sent. This is typical. Again, the power of a letter series goes a long way to landing that client.

You got to remember, people are busy, they are preoccupied, and flooded with lots of distractions, junk mail, and advertising messages in today’s super-busy world.

Lastly, I encourage you to study the masters. Learn all you can about your craft. If you can afford a mentor, then by all means hire one. A good mentor will save you tons of money, time and frustrations. It’s as good as money in the bank… provided you follow through and act on what you’ve learned.