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Play All the Parts If You Want to Prosper from Powerful Trends

Mar 1, 2008
By only considering their own perspective, newsprint companies fundamentally misunderstood the irresistible force of supply and demand during a time of high prices in the newsprint market. They kept increasing prices while newspapers struggled desperately to reduce their need for newsprint on a permanent basis. With more moderate price increases, the long-term demand and price for newsprint would have been higher.

The fundamental error that the newsprint companies made is that they didn't try to put themselves in the shoes of their customers, the newspapers, in order to anticipate how the newspapers might respond. Had the newsprint manufacturers done so, they would have realized that newsprint demand would drop faster than they expected. Also, they could have played the role of their competitors to appreciate how much extra supply would be made available.

One consumer products company decided to improve the effectiveness of its executives by having them do this sort of role playing. Some young, promising executives in a small division were given this assignment.

They loved role playing, and kept asking for more exercises to do. Eventually, they became quite good at role playing and located improved ways to run almost every company in their industry better than it currently ran itself. The payoff for their business came in better financial and market share results, because they anticipated competitor actions extremely well through the role playing.

What was totally unexpected, however, was that two of these executives went on to become the CEOs of companies for which they had done the role playing exercises years earlier. Sure enough, the new CEOs immediately began to improve their companies based on the insights gained from their role-playing experiences of many years before concerning these same companies.

This role-playing skill turned out to be a long-term career breakthrough solution, as well as a near-term benefit to the existing enterprise.

What are some of the lessons of how this role playing was done?

1. The executives were given adequate time to prepare detailed business plans for the companies they were studying as though they worked for those companies.

2. The role players were given some budget and research assistance to find out answers to what they didn't know. This helped them focus on thinking like the other companies' executives rather than wasting their time on learning trivial research skills.

3. Technical experts from their own company looked into the past and current practices of the companies under study and described for the role players the pros and cons of what those companies were doing and had done in the past.

4. The plans were reviewed by an expert in the industry who raised challenges to their thinking. In this way, the role-playing efforts were kept more realistic.

Are you ready to play more roles so you can be more successful in using powerful trends?
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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