Dave Gardner’s “Thank God It’s Monday” 15FEB10

February 15, 2010

Thank God It’s Monday is to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: marketing

A brand is a representation of quality and value, not a company name or slogan. A brand is inextricably linked to customer expectations.  It takes a long time to establish a brand and sustained effort to maintain it.

For many years, Toyota represented the best of the best in the automotive industry. No more.

If Toyota sought to save face, it has failed at the expense of its brand. And, as additional bad news is revealed, it further erodes its brand flinging the doors wide open to competitors that previously may have been closed.

In recent months, we have seen two dominant brands undermine their value by their own actions and responses: Toyota and Tiger Woods. Is there a lesson here?

Companies and the brands that thrive get ahead of the story and serve as a model for all by virtue of what they do in good times and bad.

Thought for the week:

“People and organizations (and teams and committees and task forces and colonies of ameoba) do not Thrive when they focus on the present and tentatively seek out the alternative for moving forward.  I remind you: We are not here to stick our toes in the water.  We are here to make waves.” Alan Weiss, Thrive! Stop Wishing Your Life Away, page 103

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting



Dave Gardner’s “Thank God It’s Monday” 08FEB10

February 8, 2010

This week’s focus: innovation

On cold mornings here in Silicon Valley, birds flock to the top of the tallest tree to capture the earliest rays of sunlight to warm themselves after the winter night.  They are not attracted to the shorter trees–they only want the tallest.

Isn’t that the way of the marketplace? Don’t some companies dominate their competitors to the point where the others are treated as a large mass of indistinguishable companies?

Apple dominates–the world can’t wait to see what they are doing next. Netflix and video-on-demand are putting Blockbuster out of business.  Amazon.com is the place where I buy books to the exclusion of other online resellers. How many of you flocked to Bing and abandoned Google?

What are you doing to become the tallest tree?

Note: Read my complete Fast Company blog post here.

Thought for the week:

“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” — Walter Landor: Legendary branding and design pioneer.


Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting


Lessons Learned from Birds and the Tallest Tree

February 5, 2010
It is one thing to be a player in a marketplace and yet another to dominate that marketplace.

I arrived at my Silicon Valley office at 6 a.m. on a cold (42 degrees Fahrenheit), dark, winter morning. Our humidity was nearly 100 percent. With that temperature and humidity, 42 degrees is cold.

About 30 feet from the elevator, I spotted a lone bird sitting on the cement sidewalk in a state of suspended animation. I checked the creature—it was alive but clearly bewildered. I would not wish that experience for myself or the bird.

I took the elevator to my second floor office to start my day and enjoy the sunrise. As we entered civil twilight, I noticed that, one-by-one, small birds flew to the very top of the tallest deciduous tree to just sit there on spindly little branches waiting for the sun to rise and warm them up. An adjacent, slightly shorter tree was completely ignored by the birds. As I watched the sunrise unfold, I was reminded the sunlight hits the top of the tallest trees first as the sun rises.

I don’t know if it is instinctual or just a bird’s common sense that they head for the top of the tallest tree day after day. It’s not just a morning phenomenon—this behavior is often repeated on cool, sunny evenings as the sun begins to set and the process reverses itself.

Isn’t this natural phenomenon paralleled in the business world? Isn’t it often the case the most prominent player is heads and shoulders above its rivals?

I’m a fan of Amazon.com—the only website I frequent to purchase books online. I’ve never bothered to go to barnesandnoble.com or borders.com—I got into the habit of doing business with Amazon. Amazon is my tallest tree.

Google is my search engine. Microsoft introduced a new search engine: Bing. I looked at Bing—once. Did I give Bing a fair shake? Probably not. The truth is I’m not dissatisfied with Google. Google is my tallest tree.

Alex L. Goldfayn, The Technology Tailor, offerings the following insight in a blog posting:

Apple’s iPad announcement yesterday has a number of lessons for consumer electronics manufacturers. The biggest one is this: Once again, Apple will make a boatload of money on a product it is perfecting, not creating. The tablet PC has been around for ages.

There were many MP3 players before the iPod perfected the device. And there were hundreds of smart phones before the iPhone perfected the category. And now, Apple is doing it again with the iPad.

It is not necessary to invent new products, or even functionalities, to be perceived as the best. It is only necessary to improve dramatically upon what’s already on the market, so that you can argue reasonably that you are the best.

Apple may have just grown a taller tree in this space.

So, what are the shorter trees going to do to attract the birds? They can’t. It’s just not what the birds want.

If you aren’t the tallest tree, what can you do to grow so you become someone else’s tallest tree?

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting



Collaboration: Shift to the Future podcast

February 2, 2010

This podcast has been created in collaboration with David Coleman of Collaborative Strategies (www.collaborate.com).

To listen this podcast, please click the link below:

Collaboration-Shift to the Future

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

Dave Gardner’s “Thank God It’s Monday” 01FEB10

February 1, 2010

This week’s focus: mass customization

Customized products can be the royal road to greater market share and increased customer loyalty.

“Customizers” do not enjoy the same efficiencies as “mass customizers.” Inefficiencies destroy profits. Imagine a gross profit of 1% or less on millions or even a billion dollars in annual revenue.  The inefficiencies suffered by customizers cost 1-3% of revenues and, in some cases, even more.

Mass customization is a different business paradigm with its own requirements for success–it’s not a slight mid-course correction from what you are doing today.  Product configurator software, like most enterprise applications, plays an essential role but does little by itself to ensure the outcomes you are looking for.

Here’s a self-diagnostic assessment to help you understand your current situation. Isn’t it time your company thrived?

Thought for the week:

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” –Thomas Edison

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting