Seizing the big moment
Most companies live for the big moment. They labour and strive in the present with the belief that there would come a time when the tide would turn in their favour and their efforts would be amply rewarded. Waiting for the big moment is not a forlorn hope; every industry has its own big moment.
In Nigeria, before the licensing of GSM operators in 2001, dealers of telephone accessories were minor players in the economy because the percentage of the population in need of their services was negligible. But following the liberalization of the sector and the licensing of operators, there was a huge demand for telephone and telephone accessories. It was the sector’s big moment and many of the players profited immensely from it.
However, it is not every company that seizes the moment; not all players position themselves for the big moment. Many companies miss the big moment because usually no announcement precedes its arrival.
Why do companies miss the big moment?
Many companies miss the opportunity for greatness because of the complacency of leaders. Many people get carried away by little successes. Just by being number one in a local market, setting a record or achieving a feat, they slow down, probably to savour the success. But that is dangerous. While contentment is a virtue, complacency certainly is not. As a matter of fact, complacency is the thief of greatness. A company that is run by complacent people can never seize the big moment because to the complacent, a little achievement is enough.
A company should grow as much as it can. It is wrong for those who run any organization to put a lid on its growth. How much a company grows should be left to the market to determine. For as long as the market wants more of a company, it would be improper to deny the market of the services or products of the company. If the local market is saturated, extend your services beyond the shores of the country.
Alomo Bitters is produced by a Ghanaian company but it is probably more popular in Nigeria than it is in Ghana. It is said that the product, which is sold in nearly all the West African countries, records 50 per cent of its sales in Nigeria. Had the manufacturer, Kasapreko Company, restricted its operations to Ghana, it would have remained a small company. But by going beyond the shores of Ghana, Alomo Bitters has become an international brand and, according to a recent CNN Money report, is one of the top five emerging brands in the world.
The big moment for Kasapero was the exportation of Alomo Bitters. That is what has made the local product an international brand.
Failure to innovate
One of the signs of a company that is set to seize the big moment is the knack for innovation. The reason is simple; human desires are never static, they always change. To have the market eating from its hands, a company must never cease to improve on its deliverables. A company that wishes to be relevant for as long as possible to the market must ceaselessly improve on what it does because the market is impersonal; it goes for the organization or company that meets or even surpasses its expectations.
The question to ask is what does the market want? The answer to this is not shrouded in any form of mystery. Irrespective of the industry, one thing is common to all consumers; they want products and services that would improve the quality of their lives. A company can only be successful to the extent of its understanding of this. Knowing that it has a responsibility to make life easier for its customers will keep a company on its toes. If it is able to enhance the quality of its customers’ lives consistently, it has them in its pocket. If it fails to do this, it loses customers to competitors.
The truth is customers always buy, though they may not buy from you, if your level of satisfying them does not improve. To keep your hold on your customers, never stop looking for new ways of keeping them satisfied.
How Kodak arrived at ‘Kodak Moment’
For over a century, Kodak dominated the film industry. But it went down due to what is now referred to as the Kodak Moment. Kodak Moment is a situation in which an industry leader loses out in its own game as a result of the failure of its executives to key into changes in the industry. Kodak, the giant of the camera industry, for failing to innovate, was worsted by others in the industry it once bestrode like a colossus.
The process leading to the fall of Kodak started in 1975 but the company did not actually go under until 2011. In 1975, an engineer with Kodak, Steve Sasson, invented the first digital camera and intimated the leadership of the company with this but the invention was dismissed with a wave of the hand by the leaders. The company leadership was so fixated on its chemical-based film and paper business that it never imagined an invention or technology that could displace it. Even when in 1994, Apple launched QuickTake, the world’s first consumer digital camera, which incidentally was manufactured by Kodak, the company did not give the development the required attention. But that prove destructive for it later as digital technology took over the industry. When Kodak later made an attempt to do catch up, it was such a difficult task because its leaders were reluctant to change its business template. Eventually, the company went under. It filed for bankruptcy in 2011 after its annual losses crossed the $1billion mark.
What killed Kodak? It was not Apple or any of the new companies. Kodak was done in by its failure to innovate. Failure to innovate is admission of incompetence. Unfortunately for companies that fail to innovate, the market does not deal kindly with them because it has zero tolerance for incompetence.
Reluctance to take risks
In business, success is elusive without taking risks because the nature of business is change, and every change constitutes a risk. Change comes only when new things are tried. But trying new things means venturing into an uncharted area and that is taking risks.
Those who have changed the way we live took great risks; sometimes failing but oftentimes succeeding. Without taking risks, business is mere routine, same of the same. It is when business people are on the go, looking for new areas to invest in and new products to introduce that they are able to affect the society and, in the process, create new wealth. So, the greater the risk, the greater the success.
Risk taking defines business. Starting a new business is a risk. Introducing a new product is a risk. Expanding the scope of a business is a risk. Engaging a new staff is a risk. Appointing a CEO is a risk. So, the pseudonym of business is risk.
But some business leaders have aversion to taking risks. They take calculated risks; they go for only safe risks. They want to be sure that everything is in place before they make the necessary move. But those who have this disposition are never able to seize the big moment because fortune favours only the bold.
While it is ill-advised to take a plunge without doing the necessary analysis, waiting for everything to be in place before making necessary moves is akin to waiting for yesterday.
Without the right kind of workforce, a company will miss the right moment. While the leadership conceives the vision, it is the workforce that ensures its safe delivery. Without the right personnel, a company’s vision will be aborted.
What kind of staff should a company engage? While recruiting, a leader should refrain from employing for the present state of the organization; the motivation for every recruitment should be the vision of the organization, where it wants to be, not where it already is. The present defines the future. So, if a company recruits based on its current state, nothing will change. A company that wants to get ready for the big moment must have a kind of personnel that would serve it well in its future.
Allied to that is placement. According to Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, it is not a good strategy to put the best of staff in an organisation’s problem area. Rather, a company should deploy its best hands to the areas of its prospects. In order not to miss the big moment, a company must always look ahead, not transfixed to the present.
Missing the right leadership
As important as the workforce is to the success of an organization, without a right leadership not much would be accomplished because it is the leadership that gives direction to the organization. The leadership has the capacity to either take an organization to the zenith or run it aground. So, getting the right leadership, especially one that is selfless and willing to make sacrifices for a company, is probably the best thing that can happen to the organization. If the leadership is right, other things fall in place. If the leadership is right, the vision will be well-defined, the workforce will be suitable and the strategy will be appropriate. Consequently, the company would be primed to prepare for the big moment.
It is, therefore, vital that an exiting leader who has done so well that the board concedes to him the right to name his successor must guard against the temptation to be an all-time star by picking a successor who is not as good as himself. It is critical that an outgoing leader must replace himself with someone who is at least as good as himself, if not better. This is to prevent a situation where all that he had laboured to build would be reduced to nothing by a less competent successor whose interest in the office is defined by what accrues to him.
The Daily Times story
Babatunde Jose turned the Daily Times of Nigeria into arguably the most prosperous newspaper organization in the history of Nigeria. On his watch, Daily Times of Nigeria became one of the best managed companies in the country. The company, apart from being the most important news channel in the country with several publications, also invested immensely in real estate. It owned several property in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Nigeria. It had two sprawling housing estates in Lagos and a number of eye-catching edifices in many state capitals, including Abuja.
Jose prepared the company for a glorious future. His plan was to get the company ready to become a media conglomerate of international renown. He was already looking ahead to the big moment. He was sure that with the resources at the disposal of the company, it would be able to seize the opportunity and give the country a media conglomerate that could compete with the best in the world.
But a number of his successors did not see what he saw. All that he had put in place in preparation for the big moment was put to other uses before the arrival of the big moment. When the big moment of private electronic media and online outlets arrived, Daily Times was no longer what it was and could not appropriate the opportunity.
Every organization has its own big moment; will yours be ready when the opportunity lands?