Lessons learned from PMA: ADD version

10/25/2013 11:23:00 AM
Tom Karst

1. pushing not pulling: why your iron should not ring you at work; consumers want a hole not a drill;

2. not understanding needs: Jerry Seinfeld and looking at how we think about milk, dirt and kids;

3. trapped by myths: the arms race for higher powered hair dryers and the multi-blade razor;

4. believing you can create needs: it doesn’t matter if cats can taste;

5. over complicate: tanning with a pill doesn’t cut it;

6. believing the consumer is a fool: small, dainty pens for women: rubbish!;

7. focusing on function, not emotion; whale vomit (ambergris) equals Chanel No. 5.

The other high-profile general session speaker was Peter Sheahan who similarly dazzled the audience with “laser-focused” insights on innovation.

From Sheahan we got several great historical examples where strategic planning fell on its face, from London city planners underestimating the rise of the automobile at the turn of the century to ATT’s shortsightedness at the dawn of the cell phone era to Sony’s embarrassing stab at mobile digital music.

Here are some gems to remember from Sheahan:

“Change is slow ’til it is not.” What is fringe that has huge potential? What’s that you said, Packer Market? My thoughts exactly!

“People good with a hammer tend to think everything is a nail.” Question assumptions: What exactly are you competing for, and with what?

Sheahan suggested the industry can/should do more to work together to create “magic moments” for produce consumers. How can industry better work together?

Funny, I was thinking the same thing.

Perhaps I had unrealistic expectations, but I strained and still didn’t hear any “lessons learned” in any remarks by PMA’s leaders about how the group’s new strategic plan related to the failed merger attempt by the boards of United Fresh and PMA.

With final industry comments on the produce safety rule about a month away, it is more important than ever for our national associations to communicate.

There were no heartfelt, off-the-teleprompter remarks that point to how PMA and United Fresh will partner together for the industry’s benefit.

PMA is banking on the value of its currency largely as a connector of the global produce community, though other key elements from the strategic plan include learnings from science and technology, industry talent and issues leadership.



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