Asking The Question… What If?

RayburnI had the opportunity to attend an annual conference of a national trade association I belong to – the National Association of Quick Printers (NAQP). As is typical, we had a number of good presentations to select from in addition to the keynote speakers. Admittedly though I felt this year had a pretty strong group of speakers – or at least ones that I felt would have good relevance for what I  was interested in learning about.

The keynote speaker – David Avrin, did a nice job of communicating the importance of defining who you are as a company, and then what is important in sharing that differentiation with clients and prospects. Too often we can get caught up in what we think is important or what we think the marketplace would want to hear, when in reality we are just saying the same old things that everyone else is touting as their strengths as well. To really stand out,  we must dig deep to find out the one thing that is truly unique, and then articulate that in a way that people will understand the difference. This is not an easy task, but if done well, it can make a difference for your organization!

Another truly outstanding presenter was Mike Rayburn. Actually Mike is more of an entertainer than a speaker, as he is genuinely a guitar virtuoso whose talents are extraordinary to say the least. His ability to combine Rock n’Roll standards into Country adaptations or convert popular Boy Band songs into a Bruce Springsteen genre is something you really have to hear to even comprehend.

In addition though, Mike also did share in his performance the rationale behind his unique style of entertainment. And, it was this explanation that I thought was a strong message that all of us could use within our organizations when it comes to the process of strategic planning. Mike suggested using the question – What If? If you are looking to find new avenues of business development, or new revenue streams, or ways to streamline your operations, instead of starting out with your current model – start by asking the question, what if?

As you do this, you find that you can “experiment” with concepts and ideas that are not written in stone. One other point I thought he made that was very relevant in the planning process, was that by doing this it allows you to do things “without consequence.” You truly are brainstorming!

Some other relevant points that Mike had made in the presentation were:

  • To do things you have not achieved before, you will have to be willing do things you have not done before.
  • Answer the question – “are you driving with the brakes on?” If we resolve to be the best at something, then we need to “take the brakes off!”

All of these were great concepts to hear, and all in the form of entertainment. It was inspirational and fun at the same time! If you ever get a chance to see Mike perform, I would definitely recommend him – and the next time you look to do some organizational planning, maybe start the process with the question – what if?

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