How to learn from another industry – Part 1: Complexity

My initial career was focused on cross-industry best practice, followed by competitive intelligence.  In coaching SMEs today, I realise that the approaches developed then continue to apply now.  Why?  Great steps in innovation and breakthrough performance frequently come from looking at another industry rather than trying to get faster or develop new services using the same approaches as everyone else.  Also, what happens if you are the No 1 in your industry?  Who do you look to?  Alternative ideas can frequently come from the No 1 in another industry, as long as you follow a few simple rules.  These rules are called the drivers of performance.  There will be a series of blogs on strategy which will look at each of them in turn.  This week, it is complexity.

Operating characteristics that drive complexity up, also tend to drive up costs.  So, step one is to ask yourself:-

1. How complex is my business? List them.

2. Then more importantly, what is the impact of that complexity?

3. What does managing that complexity mean for my business?

Here is an example using customer complexity.  Say you have customers with different requirements, geographies, products and services, volumes of purchase, points of delivery, after-sales support etc.  Does this mean that you have to be in multiple locations, have sophisticated customer relationship systems and other IT systems, experienced and knowledgeable staff?  If so, and you wish to learn from another industry, you should be looking at a business that also has customer complexity, even if they “produce” something completely different.  When consulting with a pharmaceutical industry on their supply chain, it became clear that their customer complexity meant different supply models in each of their European countries.  Some with Just-in-time bulk order requirements and standardised products and others with longer delivery times but unique packaging needs.  They looked to the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry for one country and the logistics leader in another.  Of course, they first confirmed their customers’ priorities to enure that their assumptions were valid.

If you would like to test your assumptions,why not try my free tool Know Your Customer click the graph icon below.

If you want to ensure you don’t miss the other parts of this series, sign up to receive them as they are published.

Here is the video

The Week:  Monday and Tuesday were scuppered by the snow and I had to postpone Highflyingdivas in Colchester on Tuesday evening.  On Wednesday I visited J P Morgan as a certified women-owned business via WEConnect International.  Thursday was a day of coaching, website training (for me that is!) and a Board Meeting.  Friday, back to London for a Women-in-technology seminar on Rewarding and Incentivising Staff with the ABG Group.  Then, I’ve been told  that I have officially made history as one of the first organisations to advertise in a book thats being sold worldwide.  Choices has just been approved by Amazon  Just think about the possibilities for the book industry and for businesses with this new advertising channel!

Reading for the week:  I have one or two remedial coaching clients and one came to the conclusion that she was not the “right person” for the job she had been given.  She found herself another role both to her and her organisation’s relief.  How much time, cost and energy could have been saved if this book could have been read?  How to Choose the Right Person for the Job Every Time
  Davila and Kursmark provide a set of skills to help you choose the right people.

Lighter Reflections.  Well I said that I would regularly try a new challenge.  So I started with a fish spa treatment.  As I waited out my 20 minutes watching my little team of fish nibbling away, I started to recognise some behavioural patterns. (Yes I am sad!).  Firstly, there was team A.  They diligently set to work on my left foot.  My right foot was ignored and I started to worry that there was something the fish knew about my foot that I did not.  My fears deepened when I spotted a fish, apparently lying on its back, on the bottom of the tank.  I then noticed another fish trying to make its escape up the side of the tank.  Was whatever was wrong with my right foot actually killing off these little workers?  I thought about sliding forward and giving the fish on the floor a nudge but then balanced up the risk that I might squash my A team stars in the process.  After a little while one of my A stars swerved off, swam down and nudged the floor-hugging fish.  It swam off and I calculated that either it was lazy or maybe on its break.  I then noticed little clusters of other fish who really weren’t doing much at all.  I waggled my feet and that stirred them up a little.  By this time, Team A had moved from my left foot to my right foot and were still doing a sterling job.  So why were the others not working?  What was missing in their motivation?  Were they just lazy, having a legitimate break or just not incentivised enough by the attractiveness (or otherwise) of my feet?  Clearly a behavioural change project needed here I think!

Future Forum Dates:

Leadership Forum, Ipswich 21st Feb

Highflyingdivas, London, 28th Feb

Highflyingdivas, London, 20th March

Leadership Forum, Maldon, 27th March

More at:


About RosemaryCC

Leadership Coach and Management Consultant helping you to clarify your goals and achieve success in your career or business. Also founder of Highflyingdivas and the Leadership Forum
This entry was posted in business management, Strategy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How to learn from another industry – Part 1: Complexity

  1. lkafle says:

    Reblogged this on lava kafle kathmandu nepal and commented:
    learn from other industries

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