To Achieve Big Goals: Become A Pattern Thinker

Source: FastCompany

When faced with trying to accomplish a big goal¸ one of the most daunting questions is: Where do I start?  “Standing on the shoulders of giants” is another way of saying you don’t have to start from scratch and you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. In business¸ we sometimes get too caught up in the idea that we need to be different¸ that we need to innovate. Of course we need to distinguish ourselves from the competition¸ but that does not mean we can’t borrow good ideas¸ make them our own¸ and do an even better job of executing them.

Use Pattern Thinking

Pattern thinking¸ where you look at what’s working for someone else and apply it to your own situation¸ is one of the best ways to make big things happen for you and your team. Combining the knowledge of others with what you know about your brand and industry can lead to results that are more than just incremental improvements¸ they can help you take a giant leap forward.

One example of this happened early in my career when I was head of the Frito-Lay account¸ which included Nacho Cheese Doritos¸ at my ad agency. One day I decided to take my team to the grocery store to look around and get some ideas. What was surprising was how much time we spent¸ not by the snack foods¸ but in the salad dressing aisle. Ranch dressing was far and away the best seller in the category at the time. That gave my team and me an idea: Would ranch dressing work as a chip flavor?

We went to Frito-Lay with the concept¸ but then it became a matter of how to position it. So I looked at what had worked for Nacho Cheese Doritos. They had applied a unique image–nacho–to a known quantity–cheese–to make a product that was both exciting and appealing at the same time. So I asked¸ “How can we do the same thing for our ranch-dressing-flavored tortilla chip? How can we give a bit of uniqueness to the known quantity¸ which was ranch dressing?” That eventually led to Cool Ranch Doritos¸ which is now one of Frito-Lay’s biggest-selling and most profitable products.

Pattern thinking requires that you keep your eyes open and actively seek out new ideas wherever you can find them. And you won’t truly have your eyes open unless you have enough humility to admit that the best ideas aren’t always going to come from you.

Read more: FastCompany

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