The Conscious Business Future

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Many small and large businesses are finding that their old ways of operating no longer work and the strategies that underpin these operations are failing. There is an emerging trend of long term decline that has started to affect even some of the historically most successful businesses in Australia.
Qantas is a good example of a traditional business losing ground in its traditional markets. In 2012 Qantas announced its first ever trading loss. Despite the excuse made by Qantas that fuel cost blowouts were responsible for their loss making result there remains some key fundamental shifts occurring that are rendering their current business out of step with their consumers and markets.
Qantas is also a good example of an “old economy” company that thinks and acts from traditional economic levers. Upon announcing its trading loss Qantas did the traditional knee-jerk reaction by cancelling the orders of the new ground breaking technology Boeing 787 jets. These jets deliver a fantastic “user experience” in air travel that while novel and new at present, will soon become the new norm and standard of the user experience of air travel.
Companies such as Qantas who are not adapting quickly to the new norm of user experiences create increased risk within their operations. The late adoption of new technology as compared to their competitors creates the risk that their service or “customer experience” is perceived as inferior or tired.
This proposition is now true for many businesses who offer goods and services into competitive markets. The game has changed and the entrepreneur must understand this new paradigm and be able to position themself in how to live in the “new economy” world of business.
For much of the 20th century we saw more or less a long term trend of businesses evolving slowly in their markets. Innovation was a gradual process. Businesses fought out their market share wars primarily around the old paradigm of the 4 P’s (Price, Promotion, Place, Product), with a 5th element (Packaging) emerging in some instances as an influence.
Towards the approach to the millennium we saw the rise of technological and information ages. These innovated society, markets, consumers and business life. New businesses emerged as new markets opened up to new product and service innovation, whilst whole new economies emerged out of digital business domains.
However innovation which was inspired by global information access through the internet, and the technology advances in our evolution, also saw the rise of the Age of Imitation which is still an age we are now experiencing.
The Age of Imitation makes imitating the new innovations in markets the new safe strategy for early adopters. We see this today with the paradigm of Apple. Apple is an innovator who rides the front of the product and technology wave. They create great products, experiences and innovations which are eagerly awaited by the public but also by their competitors.
Once an Apple iPad or new iPhone hits the market we see Samsung, HTC, and other technology/phone companies bring competitive offerings to the market. Apple has been fighting in various courts with its competitors over Intellectual Property related matters related to imitation strategies.
The nature of the legal process is that disputes can drag on for years through the appeals process and the chain of higher courts. Recently a higher U.S. court partly reversed a previous ruling which had awarded Apple nearly a 1.5 billion dollar judgement against Samsung over its Galaxy phones and tablets which allegedly imitate Apple iPhones and iPads. This legal action will take years to resolve.
The imitators are cunning. They sit back and wait and watch but are geared up to pounce and pull apart any new product or innovation. In 3 to 6 months they will have an imitator in the market and will have not incurred the total research and development overheads that the innovator incurred prototyping, developing and commercialising their innovation.
The imitator may also have teams of fresh eyes to analyse this innovation and come up with improvements and even replacement solutions that wipes out the original innovation. The advantage of innovation can be quite short due to this new phenomenon and so we can say that the Age of Innovation has now become The Age of Imitation. The 4 P’s and innovation are now basically short term or no-term advantages to business.
The innovator may spend billions to gain the edge but it can be a “bleeding edge” as much as a “leading edge” for these companies as a new product or innovation may not be well received and die a very short and visible death.
The imitator relies on basic “black and white” constructs of their competition in order to catch up and overtake them through imitation strategies. These replications and imitations are typically in the area of the 4P’s (Product, Place, Promotion, Price). These are what we call “left brain” areas of business.
The reason we call them the “left brain” areas of business are they are absolutes, empirical, measurable, tangible and mechanistic or consistent. They often are physical or geographical in nature. They can be replicated by following a strict formula. These characteristics also are normally “inside” the business and in total make them vulnerable to being replicated.
The hard path in business is the journey down the “right brain” of business. This part of your business relates to the variable, qualitative, emotional, hard to measure, subjective and emotional aspects of business. These areas have traditionally been ignored or minimised in business theory and have not been understood in terms of their impact on the bottom line profit making contribution to business.
These elements are often both internal and external to the business. The respected British publication The Economist, recently noted that “innovation and the focus on the user or guest experience is the single most important ingredient in any forward thinking business”.

The idea that there are these external subjective elements to business is at the heart of Conscious Business. At the heart of Conscious Business is the recognition of the social contract that business has with the communities and environments in which they operate.
This social contract establishes the responsibility that a business has to be in service to its community stakeholders whether they be its staff, the customers, the suppliers and the citizens of the communities in which it does business. The old idea that “business only has a responsibility to its owners and shareholders” is false in this world.
A Conscious Business is integral to the community and stakeholders in which it serves and operates. It is a two way street based on respect borne from deeply ingrained values that the business is committed to embodying at all levels of its operation. The company has both a business and a moral purpose and as such is part of the social fabric of the community in which it operates.
The company is neither indifferent nor exploitative of its stakeholders. The old Narcissistic “win-lose” approach is replaced by a common good purpose “win-win” motive. Such businesses emphasise as part of this value ethos a powerful and consciously targeted customer experience of their business as an expression of mindfully operating to higher purpose principles in the markets in which they serve and participate.
The delight of being and behaving in this way is that businesses structured and run to Conscious Business principles have consistently found that the customer or user experience is the new powerful and sustainable differentiator in their business. The imitators cannot follow them to this place of service excellence as they rely on “left brain” dynamics whereas this model over-achieves because it brings the “right brain” emotional experience to the fore.
Do not mistake the idea of “customer service” here as being what we are talking about. Customer service is a piece of this wholistic framework that is the whole of such a business. What you have to get your head around in this new economy business model is that we are talking about the entire “customer or user experience chain”. This is not about some part of the Marketing Department but it is part of every business channel, touchpoint, and personal, physical or digital object in your business.
One of the reasons we call this part of Conscious Business is that this customer experience chain has always existed in business. It has just been largely ignored and remained unconscious in the mind of business owners as a key to business success. We make it conscious and front and centre in this way of being, doing, and thinking in business.
All staff members of your business will need to embrace the key values of that business over time. This is because over time as your brand becomes known in the marketplace then you want customers to have a great and consistent “user experience” of that brand where the values are visible and lived.
The consistent user experience will become a valuable brand signature that will enhance the value of the business. This brings a degree of responsibility and accountability of each staff member to the business. If one member becomes a “bad egg” and gives poor service, acts illegally or unethically, then this can undermine the whole company brand.
It is essential that each staff member understand the customer experience that you want to deliver across all channels of your business. You should ideally create and publish a “customer experience statement” which describes the positive emotional experience that you want to give all customers when they use your products and/or services.
Research shows that the emotions you create in customers when they engage with you in your business is the largest determinant of how they judge you and your business. Perception is an emotional based construct.

This is because feeling has a far deeper and profound impact on us than thinking. We are emotional feeling beings first and thinking beings second. Hence how we feel usually has more loyalty bonding power than how we think. This is a qualitative dimension and not a quantitative measure.
Each customer interaction with a staff member or a touchpoint of your business creates either a negative, neutral or positive emotional outcome. It is hopefully a positive functional experience. This discipline is the energy of the brand. Consistent great experiences will build the company brand and make it a sign of those values you hold within that business.
It is from these fundamentals that one then starts the process of creating business channels, products, services, business structures, marketing plans and the artefacts of what one finds in a business. The difference is that the articulated values, and the consciously described user experience, are used to guide the construction of all elements of the business and shape its design.
Conscious Business Australia is uniquely positioned to assist you in your business journey towards the new economy. We transcend traditional old economy business and leadership coaching and consulting models by bringing to bear our innovative and leading edge Conscious Business Methodology.
Our unique combination of skills, insight, experience and methodologies enable us to stand apart from the tired old coaching and consulting “experiences” that still dominate the business world using old economy constructs and principles.
Come across and try the Conscious Business Australia “experience” which is built on the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, design, project management, marketing, channel design, and digital and physical product design/innovation/imitation philosophies. Have a look at our website www.cbau.com.au for more information, for a much more detailed version of newsletter articles, and for further articles and notifications of other courses and events that we run on a regular basis.
Richard Boyd is CEO and Founder of Conscious Business Australia which offers an innovative and thought leading consulting service for new entrepreneurs, existing business in decline or those who are seeking to update, re-engineer or deal with systemic problems within systems, processes, people or products.
Mob 0407577793
email: richard@cbau.com.au www.cbau.com.au

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