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What is wrong with this picture Staples?

 

staples-diversification

What is wrong with this picture Staples?

I just saw this add on Pandora and could not resist. I literally did a double-take. “Why in the world did they put a sprayer attachment in their logo?” was an immediate question that ran through my head. Since when does Staples offer gardening tools? Aren’t you violating your own brand?

This is an example of diversification. In my estimate, in a bad way. I would never expect to find “sprayers” at an office supply store. Not even from their website. For example, here are the results from the search term sprayer:

staples-60-sprayers-found

I personally champion distinction and specialization. In a world of way too much information, and way too many “you-are-a-consumer-so-consume-more-stuff” messages, I rely on specialization to find what I’m looking for.  When I need everything quickly, I’m going to hit a one-stop-shop like Target or Walmart. Otherwise, for home theater I’m going to The Sound Room, for office supplies I’ll go to an office supply store. When I want garden tools, I go to Lowes or Sears Hardware. Bottom line: I want to shop at a store that specializes in the type of product I want.

Scott McKain is an author who champions distinction. He is an expert who writes, speaks, and consults about creating distinction. One of McKain’s distinction principles smacks Staples in the face:

“The organization that fails to create distinction will fall to its competitors.”

In the end, I believe this move to diversify will hurt Staples. Maybe they will earn a few dollars on purchases beyond paper and pens, sure. But could they have invested the same effort (time, creativity, and funds) towards further creating distinction for their own brand?

How about you?

  • Where have you found a store violating it’s own specialization?
  • How do those extra products or services change your perception?

Questions at the Core

Basement Damage

As a professional analyst, my job is impossible without questions. Questions are at the core of nearly all analysis work. It’s really an art asking the right questions. But they are necessary to understand.

Above is a photo of our once finished basement. It’s a mess now, but we’re closer to understanding the extent of the damage.

“What’s behind that wall? Did the wiring get compromised? Can those plywood joists really be safe after three days in water?” These questions are at the core of understanding the restoration effort. The obvious damage is easy to identify. However, without answers to the more probing questions, we wouldn’t discover the reality behind the surface.

Without answers to good questions the scope is sketchy.

What if…
I asked more questions?
I asked smarter questions?
I didn’t stop asking questions until I was satisfied with the answer?
An answer caused me to shift my core assumptions?