It’s Not An Elephant In The Room It’s A Blinking Big Tiger!

In the classic 1969 film, The Italian Job, the character Charlie Croker, played by Michael Caine, went to collect his Aston Martin where it had been in storage following his enforced visit as a guest of Her Majesty’s Prison.

A paraphrase of the conversation between the garage attendant and Croker went along the lines of –

“I believe you’ve been in India for two years shooting elephants?” To which the response came “yes I have, but it was Tigers actually”

Looking at the bundle of cash being offered the attendant replied – you must have shot an awful lot of Tigers” to which Croker replies – “Yes I used a machine gun” …priceless.

So why regale that story, aside from the fact that I’m fond of it? Well fictitious though the storyline was, there is a fantastic analogy to be drawn from Charlie Croker’s alleged approach and that as to, what we need to be doing in our own businesses today.

Recent headlines have been filled with HMV appointing the Receivers just days after Jessop’s also filed. The high street woes are well documented. A quick scan of final Qtr YR12 results from other retailers tells of a mixed set of achievement.

Ignoring the issues of consumer spend and the basics, such as suitability of product range, one of the major threats and consequential results has been the fundamental change in business models- specifically in how the consumer wants to purchase.

Philip Clarke,Tesco CEO, reported this month that over 50% of their customers were using price comparison before they shopped.

In retail, the champions of the last Quarter were those who had firmly grasped the nettle, built initiatives and gained market momentum, moving to multi channel sales methods, some time ago.

So what will this year bring? Well I heard an expression that I rather like- “you have the pen in your hand it’s up to you how you write the next chapter”

There’s a lot to consider for this year if you haven’t already got your strategy and Operating Plan updated. Every UK data monitor is saying that inflation will remain at 1-2%, with the corresponding interest rates, global competition abounds and fiscal policy errs on prudence. This is the market as it’s going to be- this is the New World; if it’s going to be a Tiger economy will you be part of it?

I often comment on the business model you’re adopting – it is so critical to give this thought; a well thought out strategy coupled with speed and flight of foot are the antecedents to the change.
Barclays Bank have just announced that they are to switch many of their IT development platforms to open source, saving millions in development and licence costs – if they are doing something like that what fundamental could you be examining to exploit an opportunity in your market?

You might think shooting elephants with a rifle is a good business –but is it good enough to survive? This Tiger will firmly bite your backside if you haven’t thought through the strategic options facing you.

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About Michael Carr

Specialising in Strategy, Systems and Organisational Design I've had a varied and rewarding career and been fortunate to work for some superb companies such as Courtaulds, Unipart International, Akzo Nobel and more recently Jaguar Landrover, all luminaries of a solid, disciplined and a conservative, though never lacking in innovation, approach to business management and development. Augmenting my career with studying for my MBA at Warwick in the early 90's has given me a balanced and I believe rich resource set to draw upon in my Consultancy Practice. My Clients have been good to me, tolerating my idiosyncrasies, giving me enough rope to go along the journey that I was taking them and hopefully in return I've been able to repay them by raising the bar and their business performance, giving them the results and achievements they were looking for. I really enjoy my work and love the challenge - isn't that what it's all about?
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