Moore’s use of the “tornado” metaphor correctly suggests that turbulence of unprecedented magnitude has occurred within the global marketplace that the Internet and (especially) the World Wide Web have created. Moreover, such turbulence is certain to intensify. Which companies will survive? Why? I have only one (minor) quarrel with the way these two books have been promoted. True, they provide great insights into marketing within the high technology industry. However, in my opinion, all e-commerce (and especially B2B and B2B2C) will continue to be centrally involved in that industry. Moreover, the marketing strategies suggested are relevant to virtually (no pun intended) any organization — regardless of size or nature — which seeks to create or increase demand for what it sells…whatever that may be. I consider both books “must reading,” not only for leaders in high-tech companies but for those in almost any other company that now struggles with disruptive technologies in emerging markets.
The tornado in the title refers to the “vortex of market demand” and competitive ferment that occurs when a hot new technology is adopted en masse by the broader market. Moore describes strategies for harnessing the available forces to establish market leadership in this large and dynamic market. Niche, price, product, distribution, and alliance strategies are all part of the plan. In addition to the tornado itself, there are references to “The Land of Oz”, “bowling alleys”, “Main Street”, “monkeys”, “chimpanzees”, and “gorillas”. However, even if you find such analogies a stretch, continue reading because they help to describe useful theories and practices that are worth careful consideration.
The Land of Oz refers to both the market in the tornado and the blissful (or, perhaps, not so blissful) state reached by companies that successfully navigate through the tornado into the mainstream market. The bowling alley is a niche strategy, whereby each niche is a bowling pin. The objective is to use each pin to help pick off its neighbors. Main Street is fairly obvious. It’s the mainstream market. Monkeys, chimps and gorillas categorize market competitors based on size and competitive style. The book describes how gorillas — the market dominators — get to be gorillas and suggests strategies for each of the primates to follow. Inside the Tornado also makes extensive use of real-world as well as hypothetical examples in a number of product categories to illustrate and prove its points.
Long ago, when he was chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher explained the success of the company this way: “We take good care of our people, our people take good care of our customers, and our customers take good care of our investors.” My choice of the word “worker” is deliberate because I want to emphasis as strongly as I can the importance of those who literally do whatever must be done to ensure the success of the organization. Some produce products or services; others produce both. Together, workers also produce the culture within which they labor. In many companies whose leaders piously proclaim that “the people who work here are our most valuable asset,” the opposite is often true. That is why these companies have so many problems with recruiting, engagement, and retention.
To me, worker-centricity is essential to any organization’s success. In fact, I think that sustainable success is impossible without it.
Check out Fortune magazine’s annual lists of the companies that are most highly admired and the best to work for. However different they are in most other other respects, all of them are worker-centric.
As another Labor Day weekend approaches, I have once again re-read President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech to Congress (on 6 January 1941) and re-visited Norman Rockwell’s portrayal of the “Four Freedoms” in illustrations commissioned by the Saturday Evening Post.
According to President Roosevelt, “In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a worldwide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.”
Hard and smart workers are needed to achieve and then sustain success in business. They are also needed to achieve and then protect the “Four Freedoms” to which President Roosevelt referred.