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Are You Best Suited by One Strategy or Two for Eliminating Obstacles to Exponential Growth

Jan 26, 2008
Most cars operate with two front windshield wipers. Those devices are designed to overlap in the middle and alternate in cleaning up water flung off by the power of the other wiper. A single wiper blade, by comparison, is usually not as efficient because the blade has to travel at higher speed to wipe the same surface area. Unless you keep a fresh wiper blade, you will also have a streaky wipe much sooner with one blade versus two.

In similar fashion, the best individual solution will not work nearly as well in some cases as two complementary solutions will.

Here's an example: from the beginning, Southwest Airlines had a valid business model for dramatically lowering the cost of commercial aviation on popular, short flights. Having that model in place meant that Southwest could weather whatever the competition wanted to throw at it in the early days. Most other low-fare carriers have not been so lucky. They had low fares . . . but didn't always have low costs to match.

Ryanair was such an airline in lacking the right business model in the beginning. It racked up lots of losses as it built a passenger base and tried to become low cost. Fortunately, Ryanair eventually adopted its improved version of the Southwest business model to also achieve cost leadership before Ryanair got so big that making the switch became too difficult.

The airlines that have profitably expanded their passenger volume by 20 times on a sustained basis have always used two methods to create that enviable success:

1. Prices far below what competitors have been charging.

2. Costs so much lower than competitors that added customer benefits become profitable to deliver even at the lower prices.

If we look at the latest such innovator in U.S. low-fare aviation, the point becomes even more obvious. The air carrier jetBlue saw a parallel opportunity to that pursued by Southwest through providing long-haul flights between popular destinations at low prices and low costs.

Knowing that Southwest was probably going to be its most effective future competitor for popular, long-haul routes, jetBlue was designed to be able to withstand entry into those routes by that excellent competitor. The newer carrier chose a more fuel-efficient aircraft and larger plane than many of the older Southwest Boeing 737s, the latest version of the Airbus A320.

The blue-named airline also adopted a folksy quality, with humorous blue-themed snacks and beverages and quirky blue names for its aircraft. Realizing that its long flights might lead to tedium, jetBlue installed onboard individual television screens tied to satellite television. This feature allows passengers to wile away the hours watching their favorite soap operas, stock market channels, or prime-time shows. With great on-time service, efficiency in baggage handling, and frequent flights, jetBlue was soaring on a rapid growth path based on what appeared to be lasting advantages over competitors at the time this book was written.

In the future, we can expect that astute entrepreneurs and strategists will eventually realize that there will be occasions when a complementary tripartite set of competitive advantages will work even better than lower prices and costs for growing volume by 20 times. We believe that such an approach will be essential before long in the highly competitive U.S. airline industry.

For such airlines, the third obstacle-eliminating element will probably involve erasing needless ground costs and time wasters for passengers. For instance, it often costs more now to park at an airport for the duration of a trip than it does to fly. Smart airlines will eventually put in their own low-priced parking lots, great luggage handling capabilities at the parking lots, and comfortable transportation to and from the terminal.

The result will be to provide a more pleasant, faster, and less expensive experience between arriving at the airport, sitting in an airline seat, leaving the other terminal, and making the reverse trip. Today, you often spend three to four miserable hours in and around two airports to take a one-hour flight. Airlines need to look to the ground first if they want to take off to 20 times greater volume.

To test out this alternative of a two- or three-part combined approach, you repeat these eight questions as before but based on expecting that you've reached your result after having used the two or more complementary approaches:

1. Why is everyone pleased that the expansion has occurred?

2. How could people be even more pleased?

3. What changed from before the expansion to after?

4. Why didn't those helpful changes occur sooner?

5. How could the pace of progress have been accelerated?

6. What one approach could have eliminated more of the early obstacles?

7. What could have accelerated the best obstacle-obliterating approach?

8. What can be done in the next hour to start implementing that approach?
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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