Eliminate the middleman. If you've ever reviewed a process, one of the first rules of management is to eliminate the superfluous and streamline. I've never seen a successful organization ADD layers of management or processes and succeed. The more people, approvals, and regulations all add time and money to any endeavor.
So the rationale for success in the 21st century is to be more agile, efficient, effective, nimble and inexpensive. Follow this simple progression — Memos to Email to Messaging or Film Camera to Digital Camera to iPhone. Faster, cheaper, more effective.
Take a look around — it's happening all over:
- Best Buy is Amazon's showroom. I can't remember the last time I bought something there.
- Have you walked into a Macy's, JC Penney, or even a Walmart lately? The employees HATE their job and each place is a mess.
- See a cash register at an Apple Store? They check you out with their iPhone. In fact, they have an app for your iPhone to allow you to check yourself out (I tried it this weekend - it works!).
- Bookstores are dying all around us. So are record stores.
- Expensive gyms are being consolidated into inexpensive monthly membership groups.
- Supermarkets have lost their way. There are some stand-outs (Shop-Rite, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Aldi), but for the most part, they're getting TOO big.
What's happening? They are eliminating the middleman. Why buy shoes at a shoe store when I can use Zappos? Same price, huge selection, and they have my size. If they don't fit, I can send them back free. Aldi's supermarkets can run with 3-4 employees (I'm not kidding) - super efficient layout and structure.
What would happen if Stephen King decided to leave his publisher? He could write his book, hire his editor to edit the book, and distribute it via Amazon. He could also have it printed via a print-on-demand structure. And he can eliminate the middleman. And keep ALL the profits.
Look at what Radiohead did when they offered their new album digitally and allowed their fans to pay anything they wanted for the music. They averaged about $5 per album download and kept ALL the profits.
What would happen if a famous professor taught a course via webinar and charged $1000 a credit ($4K total) per student? And they offered it to anyone? How much would they make if 500 students attended? That's right . . . $2 million dollars. The logistics are easy - billing, registration and testing online - books can be purchased digitally. The professor can take questions and have a virtual whiteboard. All they have to do is teach ONE CLASS. Eliminate the middleman.
The iPad is a game changer. It is slowly killing huge areas of business, entertainment, and education. Textbooks, printing, television, DVD's, gaming, etc. Walk into an Apple Store and look around — I only saw 3 computers. The rest of the huge store was littered with iPads, iPhones, and MacBooks. Another one bites the dust.
My charge for you today: Is your position, vocation, or organization being slowly eliminated? Are you the middleman? It might not be happening now — but it might in the future.
You don't want to be the company who made slide rules when calculators were invented.