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Editor's Note: To listen to Dan's weekly column, as you've always done in the past, click here. For the written transcript, keep reading...To be successful, you must have a cause, a reason why your product is better than the rest. In our industry you can make PCBs just to make money or you can provide customers, and the world, the best PCB solution they've ever seen. Ask yourself what the following have in common: L.L. Bean, Apple, Southwest Airlines, JFK and NASA, Zappos, Amazon, and the Nano car. Think about it for a minute. Give up? They all wanted to change the world. The people working with these companies and organizations wanted to make the world a much better place for all of us. They wanted to do things in ways that had never been done before to provide better products. Each of these companies are or were led by people who wanted to do things better--revolutionaries.
Leon Leonwood Bean wanted to make a great hunting boot that would not leak and would keep your feet dry as you walked through the woods of Maine. That was his goal, not making money--that came later. JFK wanted to put a man on the moon before the end of the sixties so he inspired an entire nation with this very clear, but very ambitious goal. Jeff Bezos started Amazon to make millions of books available to his customers rather than the mere 250,000 copies that companies like Barnes & Noble were providing. The people at Tata motors wanted to produce an affordable family car, one that would sell for less than $2,000. Apple, well what else can be said about Apple? From a computer in every home, to the way we buy and listen to music, to the way we use our phones to the way we buy their products, Steve Jobs set out to change the world and he did it in a very big way. We all know how Apple has changed everything. Zappos changed the way we buy shoes, Southwest the way we travel, and so on. The fascinating thing about these companies is that they were mission-driven first and profit-driven secondly, which tells us if you have a vision of a product or a service that will be better than anything else, something that will out a dent in the world, you will succeed, thrive, and make money. But, you must have a complete understanding of your customers and of your market. You must put yourself in their shoes, walk around bit, form an understanding of not only what their needs are today, but what you can do for them in the future--what will make their lives easier and their products better.
To do this you also have to be bold and courageous enough to think outside the box to the point of being frightening to those around you. You have to dare to dream and dream big. When Kennedy set the goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the sixties, we had only 15% of the technology available that we would need to meet that goal. Talk about frightening! What frightens you in your business today? Are you ready to jump to the next level or maybe jump over two or three levels? Are you ready to lead your team on a game-changing mission?
How is your company doing? Is it doing pretty well? Is it good enough? Let me ask you this: Is it just good enough to keep you from making it better…and is that really a good thing? Are your people excited about going to work every day? Are they just punching a clock and collecting a check, or are they driven by a mission of making the world a better place? The greatest by-product of having a company driven by a game-changing dream is what it does for your team. It excites them, it turns them on, it makes them want to do the very best they can do because they become part of a noble cause. They feel they are contributing to something that really matters.
When you do everything like everyone else does--when your motto is “we’re no worse than anyone else,” you are accepting mediocrity for your company, yourself, and, most importantly, for your team. You are setting an example that good enough is, well, good enough and that there's no need to try harder, to do better. Think about that for a minute. Think about it when your company is putting out product at 80% yields and delivery times (which is our industry average) and you’ll have absolutely no reason to wonder why.
Just imagine what it must be like to work on the team that developed the iPad. Or the team that sent the first man to the moon, or the team that is doing something right now that no one has ever done before. Then imagine: What could you do if you put your mind to it? If you dared to dream that your company could do something that no one has ever done, what would that feel like? Can you just imagine that for a minute? Wouldn’t that be something?
What are you waiting for? Look at your products, study your customers, find out what they would love to have from you in terms of products and services and then develop your mission, your vision, your cause and take that first step to getting it done. Isn’t it time you put your own dent in the universe?
It’s only common sense.