October 1, 2004
by Dan Malovany
When it comes to developing innovative ideas and new products, many executives like to encourage their management teams to “think out of the box.”
Steve Farber, a Tom Peters Fellow and president of Extreme Leadership, Inc., likes to take it one step further. Instead of thinking out of the box, he encouraged attendees at the Snack Food Association’s Top Management Seminar in October, to audaciously ask, “What box?” I like that.
All too often, companies rely on line extensions instead of true innovation to spark sales. Unfortunately, such a strategy tends to bore consumers instead of creating some excitement in the snack or bakery aisles.
But how do you know when you’ve created a concept that can change your company’s direction dramatically for the better? Farber says you naturally sense it by experiencing an “OS!M.” No, it’s not the latest software from Microsoft. Rather, the acronym stands for that emotion that is best-described here as an “Oh Ship! Moment.”
Yes, OS!M is that frightening but exhilarating feeling you get when you totally commit yourself to a new and perhaps radically different proposal and just let it all hang out. It’s when you take a risk, albeit a calculated one, that scares the willies out of you. It’s sort of like skydiving for the first time.
Now, I’ve had my share of OS!M. I’ve also experienced HS!M, OF!M, FU!M, SOB!M, and MFSOB!!!M. I’m sure you’ve had several of these “moments” over the last year with the carb craze, trans fat reformulations, dietary concerns, rising health care and other critical issues, because it’s not easy to adjust to change. It’s against human nature. However, complacency where we never experience that OS!M is a greater risk that no company can afford.
Appropriately, the theme of SFA’s Top Management Seminar was “Embracing Waves of Change.” Although low carb hit the industry like a hurricane sweeping over southern Florida, several executives now report that they feel the low-carb wave has run its course. That’s good news.
The theme of this year’s Buyer’s Guide, “Exploring a Universe of New Opportunities,” reflects a similar attitude. It suggests that the bread aisle may never be the same, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, in many cases, the new order provides a potential wealth of growth for the nimble, open-minded operator who thrives on experiencing OS!M.
Check out our “Gavel to Gavel” feature, where industry association presidents suggest why you should join their groups and get involved. It’s a chance to try to control your own destiny instead of letting the “S!” hit the fan.