The S.O. Factor:
How to Make Your Business Stand Out
By Jay Forte
Everything has become a commodity; we find more inexpensive versions
of the same things. Companies quickly catch up with what others have
done – and even a good idea quickly becomes “commodicized.” How do
you keep your edge? How do you get remembered? How do you develop
your SO…the Stand Out factor?
though we know that new, different and distinct is what gets
people’s attention, most of our services and products look like what
people expect or what have already been done. We are stuck in a
pattern doing what we’ve always done. Bland. Boring. Blah!
issue is actually deeper and more personal. Most of us don’t like to
Stand Out or to be different. We started off as unique and
independent – seeing things in our unique patterns of synaptic
responses. And then we were corralled into school. We were taught
the grass is green, the sky is blue and the sun is yellow. What if
in your mind, the sun is not yellow but some other color? Our
first thought is “that is not right.” The universe has an order and
the sun has always been yellow. We perpetuate the conventional
approach by requiring what should be instead of encouraging
what could be.
today’s thinking or service economy, our value is in our thinking.
Passionate performance happens when we have freedom to imagine,
create and innovate. Business and life successes are in the “could
be,” not in the “what is.” The result is that much of the workplace,
and the workforce as well, is now bland, doing yesterday’s approach
even though today is different. Customers and employees become bored
and the effect is employees changing jobs hoping to find more
excitement and the ability to significantly contribute. Customers
and employees look for organizations that commit to the largest
experiences and impact in what they do because it’s a lot more fun.
And if the organization could be ordinary or extraordinary, why not
work and shop in a place that is extraordinary?
Out thinking, being different is key. The goal is to know what
others do and insist on doing something better. We don’t try to fit
in; we separate ourselves because in a crowded marketplace fitting
in is failing. As Tom Peters states, “In a busy marketplace, not
standing out is the same as being invisible.” If the point of being
in business is to develop a loyal customer base – those customers
who return and bring their friends, it is not going to happen by
doing what others do. Regardless of the case, it is about getting
noticed and being remembered. Standing out is about creating
something original, exciting and dynamic.
Out thinking starts with the permission to let yourself invent. This
happens in an open and accepting environment. It happens when your
workplace is diverse in both background and experience and when all
employees are required to openly invent, think and participate in
decision-making, and say what is on their minds. This is way to
invite the new, the different and the great.
were herded into similar thinking, much of our ability to Stand Out
was challenged, diminished or eliminated. Over time we became great
at doing what others did. We learned to be okay with blending and
fitting in. The good news is that we can relearn how to Stand Out.
these two areas to get back in touch with your Stand Out abilities:
Learn to reconnect with your creative side. Over 90% of 5 year
olds are creative, but only 5% of 13 year olds (and older) are
creative. We have trained ourselves out of being creative. Train
yourself back into creative thinking by learning how to revisit a
problem, issue or opportunity in the following ways:
Frame it differently.
Make it a product, a hobby, an inanimate object, a cartoon, a
food, a superhero, etc.
See it from another
perspective: man, woman, child, minority, friend, enemy,
teacher, employee, customer, affluent, poor, honest, greedy,
Morph the problem by
changing it to the best, worst, an object, a person, a policy, a
fruit, a car, a game, etc.
Link it to an unrelated
item to see the correlations; identify how it is similar, how it
is different. This forces the brain to see connections it would
Use pictures to
visualize the problem, issue or opportunity. How does the visual
encourage different thinking?
View the problem as a
color – what does it make you think of, how does the color offer
a new perspective?
Brainstorm using the
phrases, “What if?” “How about?” or “Just consider…”
Use word association to
Write a headline, poem,
obituary, news report or book title that relates to a business
issue, event or other need. This forces a new perspective on the
Build a culture of creative thinkers in your organization by the
Allow employees to
invent and take calculated risks. Reward excellent failures;
punish mediocre successes. Encourage greater thinking. If you
are not failing every now and then, chances are you are not
doing anything innovative. Visibly applaud creative efforts that
focus on value, profits and customer service. Applaud employee
reach and innovation..
Break a few rules.
Identify the rules that do not add value for a customer,
business or process. Challenge pattern thinking by constantly
questioning everything. Be sure it is the best way to do
something, respond or make a difference. If not, suggest a
change. Stand out as an employee who focuses more on value than
Invent a Creativity
Zone – an area of the workplace that is committed to Stand Out
and extraordinary thinking.
“Creativiteam” – a team assembled to generate ideas to solve an
issue, invent something new, create an event, etc.
Require an idea a day
from each employee. Create a new theme each week to direct
employee thinking. Insure that the only requirement is that the
idea must not look like what is already done.
Create an idea journal
and add to it each day.
Organizations that openly encourage all employees to think, dream
and invent, create the possibility of standing out. And standing out
is the only way to compete in this information blurred and
“over-commodicized” economy. Service that stands out encourages
customer loyalty. Workplaces that stand out encourage employee
loyalty. At a time where there seems to be so little loyalty by
either party, a bold commitment to being remembered is a critical
remember the bad B’s: bland, boring and blending as a way of
going bust. To succeed, Stand Out. Think unique, valuable,
exceptional and exclusive. Think success by focusing on what makes
you different and distinct. Then help your employees show up to get
it done, step up to do it right and Stand Out to be remembered.
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and