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Practically Radical

Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry and Challenge Yourself

By William C. Taylor
12-minute read
Audio available
Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry and Challenge Yourself by William C. Taylor

Practically Radical (2011) is a strategic guide to navigating today’s fast-moving world of business for leaders keen to set themselves apart from the crowd. Full of clever tips and insights from today’s most innovative companies, it argues for the need to rethink tried and tested methods and learn to think outside the box.

  • CEOs and leaders
  • Entrepreneurs and innovators
  • Anyone looking to boost their business

William C. Taylor is an influential writer, public speaker and business expert. He co-founded the monthly business magazine Fast Company. Taylor has written several acclaimed books on company strategy including Simply Brilliant (2016) and is the co-author of Mavericks at Work (2006).

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Practically Radical

Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry and Challenge Yourself

By William C. Taylor
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry and Challenge Yourself by William C. Taylor
Synopsis

Practically Radical (2011) is a strategic guide to navigating today’s fast-moving world of business for leaders keen to set themselves apart from the crowd. Full of clever tips and insights from today’s most innovative companies, it argues for the need to rethink tried and tested methods and learn to think outside the box.

Key idea 1 of 7

Redefine the terrain of the competition, rather than trying to outcompete your rivals.

The world moves fast these days. Even well-established companies can wake up to find that they’ve been outrun by their competitors.

Therefore, your best bet is often to get out of the rat race and focus your energies elsewhere. The most effective thing you can do is try to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Take the advertising agency TBWA: in 2004, the dog food company Pedigree commissioned them to develop a new marketing strategy. Pedigree was in a sticky situation – it was being squeezed by high-end, health-focused brands on one side and low-price competition on the other.

TBWA decided to redefine the rules of the game. Its advice to Pedigree? Stop marketing yourself as a dog food company and position yourself as a brand that simply cares about dogs.

Employees were encouraged to bring their four-legged friends to work and even given health insurance plans for their pooches. Meanwhile, Pedigree started running ads for dog adoption.

The product itself didn’t change at all, but the company’s image was transformed into a brand that stood for something more than just dog food. The fresh way of looking at things also gave Pedigree a new sense of purpose.

Those in the know call this the rule of vuja dé – the opposite of déjà vu. It’s the sense of having already experienced something and finding a new way of looking at something familiar.

Established companies have another resource up their sleeve when the going gets tough: their past successes.

Nicolas Hayek, the CEO of the Swiss Corporation for Microelectronics and Watchmaking in the 1970s, showed how effective that could be.

The Swiss watch industry was in crisis when he took up his position. Cheap East Asian watches had flooded the market. But instead of joining the race to the bottom, Hayek used the industry’s illustrious past to renew its identity.

Storied watch brands owned by the company, like Omega, were rebranded as “watches for people who achieve” – a canny way of targeting high-earners willing to pay top dollar for a product rooted in tradition.

The corporation’s cheaper watches were also given a makeover. In 1983, it launched Swatch – a brand specializing in less expensive timepieces made in Switzerland, rather than in countries with cheaper labor.

Harnessing Switzerland’s association with its long history of watchmaking was a smart strategy – by 2008, Hayek’s corporation was the undisputed leader in its field.

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