Finding New Ideas, New Product Launches, Pricing & Promotions, Shopper Communication, Knowledge Bank Blog, Category Strategy

Taking a Step Back

It’s been a few weeks since we sent out a blog. We took a break because we felt you’d have more important things to do with your time than reading our blog. You probably still do!

But, just in case you don’t, we will carry on writing blogs over the coming weeks (months…). This is not because we don’t think anything has changed. Of course it has.

It is because we think that for some of you – perhaps those in roles less critical to the supply chain – now might be a good time to take a step back. To have a think about some of the things you do and how you do them. So that when things do eventually get back to some kind of normality you are set up to succeed. Hopefully we can give you some ideas on how to do this.

We will keep writing. We hope you keep reading. Either way, we’ll keep writing.

Right, on to this week’s blog…

Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States.

He served two terms from 1953 to 1961. Before becoming President, he was a five-star general in the US Army and served as the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II.

But what Eisenhower is perhaps most famous for is a box.

It was a box that set out his productivity strategy. It is a simple way of organising tasks. You should be familiar with it.

The box (or matrix) has four quadrants. Quadrant 1 = urgent and important – tasks you do immediately. Quadrant 2 = important not urgent – tasks you schedule to do later. Quadrant 3 = urgent not important – tasks you should delegate to someone else. Quadrant 4 = not important not urgent – tasks you should eliminate.

This matrix became known as the ‘Eisenhower Box’. It has an immediate practical purpose – task organisation. But it also has another more significant purpose. It gets you to take a step back. To properly think about your priorities. By doing this you realise something that Eisenhower himself observed…

That “what is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”.

Why are we talking about this? Well, it is easy to focus on the urgent. Real (the big internal or external meeting) or perceived (responding to the email that has just come in).

Sometimes the urgent is important. Right now, getting products to the right stores for the right shoppers is urgent AND important. However, sometimes the urgent is not important – do you need to respond to that email now?

In our world the urgent typically takes priority. Those things are immediately in front of us. We need to deliver the new product launch. We need to be ready for the retailer meeting.

This means that anything that is not urgent takes a back seat. Even when it’s important. So, we think less about whether we are launching the right new products. Whether we are engaging with retailers in the right way.

But what if you did have the opportunity to step back? What if you had the opportunity to do this over the coming weeks (months…)?.

Maybe some of you do.

Over the coming weeks there will be fewer new product launches. Fewer retailer meetings. Fewer shopper marketing campaigns. Fewer price promotions. Maybe now is the time to take a step back. To take a look at how you currently do things. To look at how you could, or should, be doing things in the future (when things do return to something like normal).

What could this mean…?

Not moving from one new product launch to the next. Instead, stepping back and looking at what new products you should be launching and how you should be launching them to maximise success with shoppers.

Not moving from one shopper marketing activity to the next. Instead, stepping back and looking at the role shopper marketing should play for your brands.

Not moving from one price promotion to the next. Instead, stepping back and looking at your promotional strategy. Are promotions driving the shopper behaviour you want to drive?

Not moving from one retailer meeting to the next. Instead, stepping back and looking at how you engage and communicate with retailers. How good is your storytelling?

Not moving from one growth opportunity to the next. Instead, stepping back and really looking at the growth opportunities in your category. The ones that will make a real difference.

These are some examples. There are plenty more. You will know what the right things to look at are. They are the things that you wished you had the time to step back and properly think about. The things that you know could be done better if you weren’t so busy getting on and doing them.

They are the things in Eisenhower’s top right box.

They are important. Don’t wait for them to become urgent.

Feel free to forward. Have a good weekend. Speak to you in a fortnight.