Why David Rudisha & Andrew Osagie Proved Focusing on Improving Your Brand’s “Personal Best” Results is Risky

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Every brand owner has to make 100% sure that they are focused on beating the market. Not their personal best. A mistake that too many make.


This is the Lesson that the London 2012 Olympics Men’s 800 Metre Final Proved: The Last Man would have won Gold 3x Previously.

It was impressive that David Rudisha, a Kenyan, beat the World Record in the Men’s 800 metres final to won the Gold Medal. However, what was really remarkable was that Andrew Osagie (Team GB) who came last would have won a Gold Medal had he run at his speed in the 3 previous Olympics!

Every runner in the race ran their personal best. Andrew Osagie ran at a speed that would have won him the race in Beijing 2008, Athens 2004 and Sydney Olympics 2000.

This race showed that doing better than the competition did last time is not enough if you want to win in the future.
Be it on the track, in the the pool and also in business.

However, the Business Planning Process Encourages Incremental “Personal Best” Improvements. Putting winning at risk.

At most companies, the Annual Business Planning Process actually encourages the business and managers within it to focus on incremental “personal best” performances. This potentially sets up brands to lose the race, opening the way for the upstarts without this mindset to surge past them.

In the annual planning process the focus is usually on sales and profit, and managers are more comfortable and rewarded on building in steady stable growth numbers that improves on the past. The equivalent of delivering a good new “personal best”.
There are 3 key take aways from this experience for Brand Owners:

  1. Beware of benchmarking and measuring your performance based on improvements to yourself.
    • For example, many brands came short in fast emerging markets like China as they were focused, and pleased, with growths of say 20% which for Western Minded companies was staggering versus their established markets. But the markets were growing double that.
  2. Keep improving over what you did in the past to deliver your brand’s “personal best” is not enough. You need to ensure you have plans that will ensure that you are improving faster than the competition.
  3. Focus not on what the competition are achieving now, but on what they are capable of or could do. Not just what they have done. As Andrew Osagie found. All the competition got much better.



Summary
Being focused not just on improving their personal best, but on what their competitors are capable of doing to beat theirs is what athletes live with and understand this. They are know that speeds will be getting faster or jumps getting longer or higher. It is part of their attitude and ethos. Brand Owners need to embrace that more. Incremental personal best improvements are not going to be enough to win every race.

Action
Challenge yourself: are you focused on improving your past performance (sales, profits etc) or truely focused on what it will take to beat what the competition is capable of?

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