business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

Given the earthshaking events in retail over the past two weeks, it’s easy to accept a sense of impending doom. And frankly, it would be both wrong and inconsistent of me to suggest anything but taking these changes seriously.

Except we have to remember that things don’t always turn out as expected.

There are two important anniversaries this week that remind us of the power of new ideas and here’s hoping that one or both may inspire some interesting thinking inside your teams. And while these anniversaries have nothing in common except the calendar, they both remind us of the power creating opportunity where nothing previously existed.

The first, sure to be discussed heavily, is the iPhone. This week marks the 10th anniversary of its first appearance on the market. Think about that: just 10 years ago none of us really knew what a smart phone was or why we needed one so desperately.

Today we can’t imagine what we would do without them. Those phones play our music, guide our trips, take pictures and do thousands of other chores for us in addition to making phone calls. Whether you admired or loathed Steve Jobs, you have to recognize that the man had a way of impacting our lives by giving us technology we didn’t really know we needed.

The same could be said about the second big anniversary, but in a very different way. Yesterday marked exactly 20 years since the first Harry Potter book made its debut and, in truth, the world changed then, too.

Before the Harry Potter series, there were constant discussions as to whether children would read again or whether movies, video games and more had sapped their imagination. But with the flick of her wand - actually her keyboard - author JK Rowling showed us that none of that was true.

Thanks to Harry Potter, children (and adults) dove headlong back into books. Remember the incredible excitement that greeted each of the latter books in the series. People lined up in book stores waiting for the newest adventures, dressed as though they, too, were attending Hogwarts, playing quidditch or somehow finding another way to enter the world of wizards.

Luckily, my children were the right age at the time and my wife was astute enough to introduce the books, giving us all cause and opportunity to read all seven and attend all eight movies.

Again, we never needed Harry in our lives, but we’re so much richer for what Rowling brought.

I’m hoping that both these milestones can remind us that the solutions to current and future problems are never simple and neither do they all currently exist. For businesses out there worrying about how to merely survive this era of change the answer lies in finding a new way to solve customer needs or, at the minimum, to somehow turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

It won’t take magic, just a lot of creativity.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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