When Transformation Leads to Success—Even a Flop Isn’t a Failure

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On December 7, 2018

Transformation Leads to Success

As business leaders, we tend to pay attention to what we call “best practices.” That’s a good thing. We can learn a lot from observing how other successful businesses plan, strategize and execute their plans. There is, however, a danger in getting too wrapped up in how successful businesses do it. It can keep us from experimenting with things that are even better. Sometimes our experiments flop. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world. I’d like us to consider the times when transformation leads to success and even a flop isn’t a failure.

Turning Your Back On the Status Quo

Sometimes the way to break out as a company is to turn your back on the status quo. I’m not talking about doing crazy new things just because they’re different. But if doing the same thing over and over again isn’t giving you the results you want, you may need to transform the way you’re thinking about (and doing) business. Let’s look at an example of a

A Disruptive Athlete

There’s a bit of a danger when using athletes as models for business success. When you talk about individuals such as Michael Jordan or Venus Williams, you’re talking about individuals with exceptional physical talent and abilities (not to mention superlative work ethics and incredible drive). I’d like to take a look at an athlete, however, who transformed the way his sport was done—and did it in an unconventional way.

Early in his athletic career, Dick Fosbury approached high jumping the same way everyone else in the sport did. He’d either roll over the bar or do a scissors kick. It was how it was done. It was “best practice.” The problem was that Fosbury wasn’t achieving the results he wanted.

A Different Approach

Fosbury began taking a different approach. He actually turned his back on the bar as he attempted to clear it. Nobody did it that way, but he started jumping higher than anyone else. It shocked people. In fact, opposing track and field coaches even questioned whether it was legal (it was). He kept having increasing success with his new approach. Detractors called it “flopping.” When asked how he described his new technique, he playfully pushed back at his critics and said he called it the “Fosbury Flop.”

His “flop”, however, was anything but a failure. It took him to the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, where he took the gold medal in the high jump with a record-breaking leap of 7 feet 4 ¼ inches. Four years later, 28 out of the 40 high jump competitors at the 1972 Olympics in Munich were using the Fosbury Flop. The 1976 Olympics were the last Olympic Games in which anyone won a medal using anything but Fosbury’s approach.

What Does That Mean for Your Business?

I’m not saying that you have to “turn your back” on conventional wisdom or best business practices. It’s smart to observe how successful businesses operate. But if you’re not getting the results you want (and you should be measuring your performance, by the way), you may want to consider changing your approach.

As an executive business coach, this is something I help clients with all the time. I understand and endorse a lot of best business practices. But I also help clients take a hard look at what kind of results they are actually getting. Then we work together to develop strategies, execution, and metrics that will allow them to scale up their businesses and get the results they’re after.

Let’s talk about how I can help you transform your businessand scale it up to get the results you’re after.