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Minding Your 4P’s, Creatively, to Protect and Grow Your Business

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Minding Your 4P’s, Creatively, to Protect and Grow Your Business

Can you believe that most of us have been running our business or career on a half tank of gas and forever wondering why we’re not there yet?

It turns out that without combining analytical thinking with creative thinking, we are only operating on half our potential. Analytical thinking is taught the world over in schools, society, and the framework of modernity. But creative thinking is not taught at all. It is passed over in favor of the ever-growing analytical movement.

But there is hope. Creativity can be learned. It only takes the will to learn it, to train your mind to think differently.

That different way of thinking is the Creator Mindset. And the Creator Mindset has 4P’s that are creatively derived for success in any business or career. The 4P’s are People, Process, Product, and Profit. A lot of people in my community lead companies, are serial entrepreneurs, or have built a product or service from scratch, and therefore have their own version of my 4P’s. But without infusing creativity in each step, these 4P’s become yet another manifestation of what everyone else is doing.

Thinking analytically bereft of creative thinking.

And what ends up happening is that no matter how good your particular process is, without creativity embedded in everything we do in business, we are doomed to fail at some point. It is like a domino effect, where any issue in one of my 4P’s has an eventual impact on the rest of the business.

Take the Wells Fargo scandal from 2016, for example. And I’m not knocking on Wells Fargo. I like them. But their disregard for creativity at all levels of the organization makes for an easy case study in failure using my 4P’s.

To remind you, a few years back, Wells Fargo had a big scandal on their hands. They were incentivizing staff to upsell features like credit cards and loans and more. And at one point, a letter to shareholders proclaimed the company “the king of the cross-sell” or upselling to existing customers.  What could possibly go wrong?

It turns out that they had incentivized staff to upsell unsellable items: My 1st P, People. They had no real pipeline in place to handle these upsells: My 2nd P, Process. They sold things people didn’t really need: My 3rd P, Product. And they thought this revenue would turn into profit: My 4th P, Profit.

What did ultimately go wrong? And what can we learn from this to avoid this happening in our business or career?

 

People

Wells Fargo wanted their branch staff to sell an average of 6 extra items per customer. Can you imagine?! 6 extra loans, credit cards, saving accounts, and so on? Per customer!? It seems obvious that this mandate was to be a disaster, but at the time, Wells Fargo could not see it.

So, their people did what anyone else would have done: They lied. They lived in fear of their jobs. And getting fired was imminent. And who can blame them? They made up fake accounts, fake credit cards, and fake loans to “make their numbers.”

You can stop this from happening in your business or career today. When you set incentives by thinking creatively, the psychology of People is essential.  And thinking about setting reasonable goals to ease staff out of fear and into success is a Creator Mindset principal. Instead of incentivizing on the sale, try incentivizing on the quality, not the quantity.

 

Process

At Wells Fargo during this time, there was no process in place to catch the fact that there was widespread dishonesty among staff. Wow! Can you imagine? One of the most regulated fields in business, and no process to catch the cheating.

You can stop this from happening in your business or career today. Because when thinking creatively, a whole new Process begins to emerge. This process can work in small, manageable chunks, which I call the Little Victory. And when we use creativity to set process, we then empower a large population of our staff to hit meaningful goals and have the most possible opportunity for success.

 

Product

Wells Fargo didn’t understand their own products and services. So, when we look at the product creatively, all kinds of new modifications and ideas emerge to improve the product. But yet at the very core, Wells Fargo is in the business of trust. Their creative product is essentially trust– and anything that violates this trust can have a lasting and damaging impact.  Their People making fake accounts and their Process failing to catch it led to damage in the Product as consumers lost faith in them as a banking option.

You can stop this from happening in your business or career today by creatively listening to the market and assessing how your product or service is really used, wanted, and supported. It matters none how excited you are about your new offering if the market cannot support it. Don’t be the company or professional that tries to solve problems that do not exist.  Listen to what is being said and how the product or service is being perceived. Your creative identity will then have real, tangible meaning in the marketplace—and you will understand the real meaning of your product or service.

 

Profit

The end goal of all businesses should be to turn as much revenue as profit as possible. Analytically, Wells Fargo’s management set up an environment where only the “good news” made it to leadership.  And hearing only what you want to hear is not a creative principal. It’s analytical. Problems were not addressed; only perceived success was. And in the end, it took an enormous toll on profitability. After all, you cannot make money on fake credit card accounts that do not exist.

You can stop this house of cards from happening in your business or career. Using creativity to listen and react to all three other P’s will enable you to emerge victoriously. And applying creativity at each step has the ability to unite our thinking into a whole unit, moving forward together—full of gas and ready to go to solve any problem. In the Creator Mindset, profit becomes the goal of getting all the other 4P’s right, creatively.

We can learn a lot from the case study of a company that didn’t get it right.  If you look at it creatively, Wells Fargo’s mistakes can literally teach us what to avoid in your own business or career. Wells Fargo enacted some methods to fix what was going on and recovered. But if they had taken a Creator Mindset approach from the start, they would have been able to avoid many of the pitfalls they fell into. What we can learn from those pitfalls is incredibly valuable.

Nir Bashan is the founder and CEO of The Creator Mindset LLC, where he teaches business leaders how to harness the power of creativity to improve profitability, increase sales, and make work more meaningful. His clients include AT&T, Microsoft, Ace Hardware, NFL Network, EA Sports, and JetBlue. He received a Clio Award and an Emmy nomination for his creative work on albums, movies, and advertisements, and was one of the youngest professors ever selected to teach graduate courses at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He lives in Orlando, Florida. Learn more about his new book, The Creator Mindset: 92 Tools to Unlock the Secrets to Innovation, Growth, and Sustainability (McGraw-Hill; August 2020), at https://www.nirbashan.com/the-creator-mindset. Or visit https://www.amazon.com/dp/1260460010.

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