One of the troubles that many modern businesses get into is trying to be generalists. Generalism is a good idea in a lot of directions – multiple skill sets prevent people from being useless in many situations. If we all only did one thing well, however well it is, we’d be missing out. Kids that only get taught to do the laundry aren’t likely to be very good at doing the dishes. It’s the same with families, communities and businesses as well. If you narrow too much in your scope, you miss out. However, this is not the direction businesses tend towards when left to their own devices.
Most companies gobble. Look at Google’s acquisition of FeedBurner or YouTube. El Goog was drawing together tools which fit its purpose; information aggregation and media transmission. Sadly, this is a rare occurrence. Go down to your nearest local store – something that’s not a corner store, I mean a large chain retail place. Anything that doesn’t fall into the boutique category. Ever see a grocery store selling DVDs? A computer store selling beany babies? These bids to play on impulse buying habits already present – while logical and to some sorts successful – needs more consideration than it usually gets on the part of product planners.
It’s silly, and it amounts usually to bad buys on the part of the company because, in many instances, if you specialize in electronics, you know how to service electronics. What do you know about personal health care devices? If you’re a butcher, why do you sell vacuums in a corner of your shop? Someone convinced you that you were over-specialized, and you took the bait – but in the wrong direction. Now, you’re stuck with a meatball sundae of a business instead of the original, well-to-do gig you spent so much time on.
What do you do, when you realize you’ve branched at the wrong place? What happens when the slick deal you thought you made turns out to be a bum move?
So many companies are at exactly that point right now, when the economy is at its worst, because that’s when the signs show the surest. Now that you’re seeing what’s going on, you’re probably going to make better decisions in the future.
That’s nice. But what are you going to do about this problem now?