Moving from Successful to Significant – Catalyst #3

The Exception – It takes Exceptions to be Exceptional – The Catalyst #3

Success has five building blocks that act as a foundation for, well, success.  These five building blocks have common names like Leadership, Relationships, Creativity, etc.  The third building block or Success Imperative is the need to be creative and innovate.  When you look, act, and perform like everyone else, then you are  . . . average.

A key Catalyst to drive creativity and innovation is the doctrine of exception.  To be exceptional, you first need to be an exception.

For example, Kimberly Clark rolled out (sorry about the pun) toilet paper that does not have a cardboard tube in the center.  According to the company, there are 17 billion toilet paper tubes produce each year, accounting for 160 million pounds of trash.  Now line those tubes up end to end and “they create a tube from here to the moon and back . . . twice,” says Doug Daniels, brand manager at Kimberly Clark.

Therefore, the new “tubeless” Scott Toilet Paper not only saves many trees and waste, it decreases Kimberly Clark’s energy needs.  Creating an exception to regular business is good for everyone that will also prove more profitable.

Nike shoe is about to introduce a new running shoe called the Flyknit.  After listening to their customers who asked for a shoe that “fit and wore like a sock,” Nike’s R&D labs created a shoe that is woven from filaments by a computer-controlled machine, into a one-piece shoe.  Stick a sole on the bottom of this “sock” shoe and you have a revolution in footwear.

Imagine “weaving” shoes that do not require individual pieces of fabric to be cut and sewn together.  The time and labor savings are huge.  Consider a future time when your foot is scanned and a computer directs a weaving machine to create a shoe that indeed, fits your foot just like a sock.

The roll out of the Nike Flyknit will hit stores in July of 2012 and will cost about $150.

How can you become exceptional?

  1. Look at what you are doing and what the competition is doing, make a note of that which you are doing different, or uniquely and focus on that.
  2. Take something that you do really well and enhance it, shrink it, grow it, study it, and expand on it.
  3. Ask, “If I could create the ideal world for my customer by using my _____________, what would that look like?”  The best way to beat Bill Gates is not to create a better computer, but instead shrink the computer and put it in a phone.  Thank you Steve Jobs.
  4. The “I just want to play it safe” part of you will try to hold back doing something out of the norm.  Remember bureaucracies are the enemy of exceptionalism.  They want cookie cutter organizations and products.

You no doubt are successful now.  Nevertheless, to make your impact lasting and profound, you need to move past success.  Being exceptional requires you to be a little bit of a maverick, a maven, a misfit.  But moving past success is the stuff of legacy.  It is significant.

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