TOBE Says We’re On Shaky Ground

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Across industries, backbone systems are showing heavy signs of wear and tear. TOBE fears that the remedy may be more rebuild than renovate. Easier said than done we know, but it bears a frank discussion. The bright side: there are upsides to an upheaval. Consider this your permission slip to change tempo, take stock of your business, and turn it on its ear if that’s what’s necessary.

Cracks In The Foundation…Load-bearing becomes unbearable.


The very same system that made the U.S. an enviable superpower now serves up “the best of the worst” political process, with much dissension among the parties. Without getting too deep in the political discussion, the one thing that is agreed is that the system needs to change.

In 2015, for the fifth consecutive year, almost half of American adults surveyed identified as Independents, leaving Democratic and Republican affiliations at or near recent lows. (GALLUP)

Race Relations

Race relations are coming to a head. We have technology to thank, as video helps injustices go viral and hashtags spread the news. More than a third of Americans now say they are worried “a great deal” about race relations in the U.S., higher than at any time since Gallup first asked the question in 2001, doubling from 17 percent just two years ago (GALLUP).


FinTech is giving finance a run for its money (pun intended) with solutions designed to bypass the traditional banking system. Personal finance, lending and payment are all going off-channel, much to traditional banking’s dismay. Key drivers that make the movement so catchy: state-of-the-art customer experience, convenience and speed. And funding is no issue; global funding of FinTech startups more than doubled in 2015, reaching $12.2 billion (PWC).

New Media

The death of appointment TV (save for live sports) and the blatant bias of news channels, which report from the far tips of each wing (it’s clear where Fox News and NPR stand) culminate in a choose-your-news environment. Not even your Facebook feed is safe; algorithms take an educated guess at where you stand, serving up like-minded opinions thereafter. In today’s new media climate, it’s completely possible to think that yours is the only side that exists. Journalist, judge and jury as distinctions are entirely up for grabs.


Phone calls, postal delivery, printed publishing, offline media and even words themselves have all taken it on the chin. Snapchat’s increased breadth of features adds entertainment to that hit list as well.

Messaging has been the fastest-growing online behavior within the social landscape over the past five years, passing social networks; messaging will add 1.1 billion new users by 2018. (ACTIVATE/WSJ)


The good news: we’ve just experienced the largest reduction of uninsured in four decades (U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES). The bad news: the Affordable Care Act left a large number of Americans dissatisfied. 54 percent of Americans disapprove of it, compared with 44 percent who approve of the law (PEW RESEARCH CENTER).


The how, what, where and when of this process are experiencing a renaissance. The world’s largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, does not own a single hotel room. The largest chauffeured car service, Uber, does not own a single car. These companies think differently and they’re reaping the benefits tenfold.


Everyone gets older and more and more set in their ways—that’s life, and apparently, that’s retail, too. Mature retail is weighed down by its own dated processes and inflexible skeletons. But inspiration is out there for the taking; it’s almost impossible not to be energized by the upstarts and innovators. It’s time for the old dogs to learn new tricks.

Even Mother Nature Herself…

Since 2000, overall cosmetic procedures have risen 115 percent (AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PLASTIC SURGEONS). But we’re not stopping there. Nature-trumping is going beyond the superficial with prenatal sex selection and gene editing.

Drawing Blueprints

Sure-footing your business.

Face The Fear

Standing still is not an option. Do this and you’re a sitting duck. Step back and assess how big the problems are and start moving. Department stores, we’re talking to you.

Read The Signals

Retrain yourself and your team to fresh-eye this sucker. What would you think of your enterprise if you were walking through the door for the first time? Where do things no longer make sense? What would you not do the same way again?

Clean Slate It

Shutting down and reevaluating everything is usually not an option. So, keep your operation running while you strategize new options in the back room. Consider this a business cleanse. Carve out a team to build your business from scratch, with no existing baggage. Compare what that looks like with what you have and reconcile wherever you can.

Mainline Creativity

TOBE can’t stress this enough. There is no example we can think of where creativity wasn’t appreciated—from design to presentation to marketing. Inspired ideas and innovation are what makes good businesses great (ever heard of a little business called Apple?).

Apply Common Sense (Liberally)

Don’t follow conventional wisdom blindly, assess all current conditions, processes and initiatives with a clear head. This will be hard because of a predisposition to the competitive landscape you already know too well, but trust us, force yourself.

Do Business Cross-Fit

Master best practices from best-in-breed across business disciplines. Adapt good ideas for your business and run with them (TOBE is tops at brain-trusting this).

Financial Responsibility Is Non-Negotiable

Despite the startup mentality that has been drummed into every businessperson’s head, financial health beats a bleeding balance sheet and acquisition may not always be the answer.

Stay Nimble

Complacency got us into this position in the first place.



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