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THE TOPICS

Change Can Be A Pain. Just Ask Kodak.
Adam Ferrier
How to help future-proof your pharmacy and better serve your community’s health care needs.

How to help future-proof your pharmacy and better serve your community’s health care needs.

How is it that the world’s biggest and most established camera company couldn’t make the switch to take advantage of the advent of digital photography? Yet around the same time, a company called ‘International Business Machines’ (IBM) had transitioned out of international business machines (now called laptops, tablets or smart phones), and into professional services, and is now thriving?

This article includes tips on how to help future-proof your pharmacy, so that you can aim to keep on delivering the best health care solutions for your customers – no matter what market forces blow at your door.

Change Can Be A Pain. Just Ask Kodak.

WHAT VS. WHY

Simply put, there are two types of businesses in the world: ‘What’-based businesses and ‘Why’-based businesses. Let’s have a quick look at each.
• A what-based business defines itself by what it sells. The owners of ‘what’ businesses believe they are in the business of selling a certain thing and want to be experts at that. For example, St Kilda Dress Shop prides itself on selling dresses (and happens to be based in Melbourne’s St Kilda). Kodak was a what-based business – it sold film.
• A why-based business defines itself around a purpose – an answer to a question, ‘why do we exist in the world?’ A competing dress shop in St Kilda might believe they are in the business to make women feel irresistible. If that was their business, they might call themselves, for example, Irresistible. IBM is a why-based business. They exist to solve complicated business issues.

“Let the world know your purpose and ensure they keep you accountable to it. Ensure that your staff are on board with it too. It’s your organising thought for your business, it’s why you get up in the morning. It’s why you love what you do.”

Here’s the thing: why-based businesses have built within them two competitive advantages – they are inherently consumer-focused, and they can stretch to meet their customers’ needs, no matter what the issue. Take St Kilda Dress Shop (a what-based business). How will the owner respond when the dress market struggles – and pants and skirts are the new trend? What does she do? Or worse still, over time dresses become unpopular and she can’t extend her brand or product offer easily as she’s in the dress business. Having a 'what' based business makes it more difficult to move with the ebb and flow of change. Irresistible (a why-based business) can. No matter what trend the owner can deliver on what women want – as she is clear about her purpose (women want to feel irresistible), no matter what the product is she needs to sell.

Without doubt the best why-based brand in the world is Virgin. Virgin exists to be the consumer champion, and take up the fight against the establishment on behalf of the consumer. This why-based purpose allows Virgin to stretch into financial services, health care, airlines, music and so on. As long as consumers want a consumer champion, the Virgin business will be alive.

Some other advantages in creating a why-based business are that staff will be more engaged. Staff will more easily rally behind a purpose than they will the idea of continual transactions. Further, with a purpose at the core of your business you’ll find you are thinking about the customer more. If your purpose is, for example, ‘to provide the very best health care to my local community’ you’ll be able to deliver on that purpose no matter what particular health trend is in vogue in your community.

Change Can Be A Pain. Just Ask Kodak.

HOW TO CREATE A WHY-BASED BUSINESS

Look at your shingle above your door.
If it says ‘Suburb X Chemist’ you may be a what-based business. The name is a good starting point for a why-based brand. They’ll name themselves after the benefit they provide, or at least choose a name that doesn’t limit their growth. For example, when Virgin was starting out they were going to call themselves Slip Disc Records. If that had been their name they would have found it very difficult to stretch into airlines! In the Australian retail area some strong why-based names are Boost (providing vitality), Aesop (providing intelligent beauty), and Smiggle (fun writing stuff).

Ask yourself what is our purpose?
Get your staff involved. Ask your customers. Develop an answer to that question that you keep yourself accountable to.

Put it on a plaque at your counter.
Let the world know your purpose and ensure they keep you accountable to it. Ensure that your staff are on board with it too. It’s your organising thought for your business, it’s why you get up in the morning. It’s why you love what you do.

Track how you are going.
Ensure you find enough time to measure not just what products and services customers are demanding – but how well you are delivering on that purpose. On this point, Kodak would have constantly been measuring film sales and brand health. Instead they should have been asking themselves ‘How well are we delivering on people’s ability to capture memories’.

Ask suppliers how they can help you deliver on your purpose.
Having a strong purpose is infectious. The suppliers to your pharmacy will want to help you deliver on your purpose if you can clearly articulate it to them.

IN SUMMARY

“Find your purpose and future-proof your pharmacy.”

As a final word, be careful. Your pharmacy’s practices can best be equated to a muscle in the human body. If for years and years you keep doing bicep curls you’ll build big biceps, but your muscles won’t be able to stretch at all. If you’re asked to deliver something different you’ll find it very hard to change. Just being good at one thing may not be enough if people stop wanting that one thing (film) or if market forces change considerably (mobile phones having more processing power than big machines).

Find your purpose and future-proof your pharmacy.