Check mate: The shrewdest moves in business

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The Shrewdest Moves in Business

We’ve all heard the over used clichĂ© that you’ve got to “think outside the box”, so much so, it has pretty much lost its appeal. In business most of us try to play by the rules and patiently wait for the results to roll in, but others, past and present have taken a more creative approach, which despite the risks involved have well and truly paid off.

For these individuals, “thinking outside the box”, has been the smartest move they’ve ever made in business. Ideas may have been radical, decisions considered hasty and thoughts unconventional, but these were well planned and even better executed steps to make.

Here’s a look at some of the smartest, shrewdest decisions business has ever seen.

Henry Ford

In January 1914, Henry Ford increased the worker wages from $2.34/day to $5/day and reduced the working time from 9 hours to 8 hours per day- a decision so popular that he was encouraged to run for President.

Henry Ford was motivated by more than employee satisfaction. By the end of 1914, Ford’s 13,000 workers made 260,000 cars annually while the entire rest of the industry with 66000 workers produced only 280,000 cars, meaning that Ford’s workers were five times more productive.

Within 2 years of this radical pay rise, Ford’s profit jumped 200% to $60 million/year. Employee turnover remained low; staff were dedicated.  His offer was too appealing to resist, meaning that he attracted the very best staff and kept them there. As a result efficiency improved dramatically.

Ref: Balaji Viswanathan, Quora

IBM: Operation Bear Hug

In the early 1990s, IBM was encountering issues, causing large numbers of staff to be laid off with more and more losses suffered every day.

The general consensus was to evolve the business, but one person was brave enough to move against the grain. Knowing that the company had to survive, CEO Lou Gerstner developed a plan and “Operation Bear Hug” was born.  50 managers from IBM were sent around the world to meet customers in person. They listened to consumer concerns and the “empathic” connection to real-world customers helped the managers see matters from a consumer point of view.

IBM were able to see what was providing real value to customers and these “gold mines” were quickly capitalised on. The managers discovered that large corporate clients were interested in the Internet but largely unsure on how to use it effectively. This move eventually has made IBM the futuristic, technologically advanced company that we know it as today, and made the company approachable instead of unattainable.

Quora: Arjun Subramaniam

Minnetonka: Liquid Soap

You might not have heard of this company under its original name, but what kind of soap do you have next to your bathroom sink or in the office toilet dispensers? Statistically, it will be liquid soap. Back in 1970, the only provider of liquid soap on the market was Robert Taylor and Minnetonka, with excellent feedback from markets hungry for more.

Aware that the large soap manufacturers were hot on his heels with the resources and research and development teams he could only dream of, it was time for Minnetonka to move fast. Unfortunately for Taylor, he was unable to patent his work. Taylor’s next move was beyond clever.

Instead of targeting the soap, Taylor went for the pumps which would dispense the soap. With only two companies producing the pumps, he bought every single pump they could manufacture for the next two years

Without the part required to dispense the soap, the large companies were left powerless and during this time Minnetonka were able to capture the market. His product become known as SoftSoap, highly popular in America, and two years after his little stunt, Colgate-Palmolive bought SoftSoap from Taylor for an astonishing $61 million.

The best decisions require considerable thought, give your next move some consideration and it could be the wisest time you’ve ever spent.

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