Written by Mona Pearl

What should companies learn from failed fads that can apply to their own success?

Companies should stick to what works for them and they shouldn’t create change for the sake of change. Jack Welch, who wrote in his book “Winning”, advises to attach every change initiative to a clear purpose or goal, change for the sake of change is stupid and it really doesn’t make any sense. So many companies make the mistake of attempting to go global without proper preparation.

When I asked a company what made them decide to go to China, the answer was that it was cheaper. At the end of the day, when we looked at the balance sheet, I proved to them that they saved one cent per unit, and the cost to open the market will be balanced after they have sold over one million units. In retrospect it was not a smart decision on their part.

Another lesson to be learned is having a genuine, but misplaced desire to innovate. New initiatives fail to deliver when innovation focuses on management processes rather than on services and products for a changing and/or culturally diverse global market. Customers, and not authors and gurus, are the best business advisors a company can have. Do your market research, look around, and see what is needed; it’s not just, okay we need a new product, let’s do it. In many cases, engineers or the R&D division of a

company fall in love with the product and then the marketing people can’t really sell it. This doesn’t include the products that are popular in the United States but that people in other countries really have no use for or could use if modified properly.

Another lesson is the Hollywood game. Sometimes a fad is taken up by a leader to bolster the ego or to appear cutting-edge. This is caused by a “go-Hollywood” virus, complete with buzzwords, special effects, superstars, and other glitz. Many CEOs are focusing on their agenda and this is why in many cases all these fads are starting. It includes a corporate buzz that really doesn’t deliver tangible results.

Don’t discard older processes such as looking into your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis. Just because they have been around for a long time doesn’t mean that they don’t work anymore. In general, do the homework. Don’t forget to apply good old-fashioned common sense, which unfortunately is not so common. Address differences between fads and success.