Thursday, September 17, 2015

Karla's Korner: Transformation in Tumultuous Times

You know, as CEO of a company like PH, I get a lot of email. It's exciting because with every message I receive, I see new and  amazing opportunities.  Just this morning for example, I received an email from M. Mugabuto, the Director General of the Nigerian Central Banking Authority. He had a very interesting proposal, which I see opening up an array of transformational opportunities for the entire sub-Saharan economy.  There could be a very substantial business for PH in  providing the leadership and technical know how to make this work. Tribal villages could become e-centric nodes in a constantly evolving matrix of connections between the past and the present that link the very heart of tradition with the shining world of tomorrow. Getting a deal like this off the mark takes courage and flexibility - and money.  I immediately wired a million dollars to Mr. Mugabuto and his associates because I know a smart investment when I see it.
In days past, PH often said that it wanted to be like the trusted old friend to it's customers. Now a trusted old friend is nice. Sometimes you have them over for dinner. Sometimes you play tennis together. Sometimes you invite them on your private jet, fly to the Languedoc Roussillon region of France, rent a village and pretend to be Marie Antoinette for a day.

But trusted old friends don't usually talk you into foolishly spending your money. And that's what we need to be doing - getting all of our customers and business partners to start spending  like there's no tomorrow. So my suggestion is this: don't be the trusted old friend to your customer anymore. Become the irresponsible old college roommate who comes to town, takes you out on a drinking binge, empties  your wallet, steals your credit cards and leaves you for dead in a ditch next to the highway.

In our own company transformation takes a different form. It means trying things that challenge tradition - and sometimes challenge logic.  For example, some question the wisdom of taking our best and worst performing divisions and combining them. The skeptics say zero times a million equals zero. But another way of doing the math is to add zero and a million and divide by two.  Five hundred thousand doesn't  sound too shabby.

The big question is what is our place in the world. The vision thing. I can honestly say, with little chance of being contradicted,  that no one could have foreseen what this corporation has become in the past five years. Our new future will be built around the appliances that people use in their daily lives. Today, we stand  ready to take on tough new competitors like Maytag and Kenmore with exciting new products like the first LINUX based dishwasher and our new dual function network storage hub/toaster oven.

And it doesn't stop there. Think of a world where there is a web server in your washing machine; a gigabyte of storage in your shoes. Think of the possibilities when your vacuum cleaner can talk to your car; when my microwave oven can talk to your microwave oven. One hundred years ago every self respecting household had a live in maid. Think of the services potential when every home will need a full-time system administrator to reinstall Windows on the coffee maker or download a security patch into their sunglasses.

So draw the lines between the boxes. Expand on the vision. And get those customers to spend more money.

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