Here’s What Nirvana And David Bowie Can Teach You About Business

On my way back from a networking coffee meeting I listened to The Man Who Sold The World by Nirvana as it played on the radio. You may...

Photo: Harold Waisel, President at Performegy LLC; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Harold Waisel, President at Performegy LLC; Source: Courtesy Photo

On my way back from a networking coffee meeting (a couple of weeks ago) I listened to The Man Who Sold The World by Nirvana as it played on the radio. You may have heard the remake
 version by the late David Bowie.

With Bowie’s recent death still very fresh in my mind, my thoughts began to wander from the Nirvana Unplugged version to Bowie’s version, seen on Saturday Night Live in 1979. It made me think about how the same song can sound incredibly different when played by a different band.

Both artists, Bowie and Nirvana, were influential in their respective genres. Bowie was the definition of glam rock, and Nirvana was considered a groundbreaker in the grunge era. There are
 many other similarities, and many more differences.

And that is the point.

Just like the same song performed by two different artists can sound very different, the same strategy carried out by two distinct companies will lead to different outcomes.


Same ‘song’, different outcomes

For example, if the strategy of two banks is to achieve “organic growth” from their respective customer bases, that does not mean each will be successful.

They each need to consider their current markets, the products their current customers use, level of technology prowess, and so on. They also need to
 determine how aggressively (and through which channels) they will pursue existing customers. Much of this boils down to the three-legged stool of time,
 people, and money.


Strategy worth listening to

Every business owner should have a systematic process for reviewing their current strategy. My recommendation is at least biannually, quarterly is better.

 may be able to control variables to minimize risk to strategic goals, but it cannot control external forces that lead to a reset of
 strategy. Leadership down to front-line employees must clearly understand your strategy, and implementation plans should clearly align with the goals.

Think about risks that could impact how you execute on plans. Inevitably, over time, you will need to either change strategy or your approach in
 order to adapt to external forces.


Do you need help developing a strategy, reviewing your existing strategy, or implementing standard strategic planning processes? We can even debate Bowie and
 Nirvana if you’d like.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Harold Waisel has over 25 years of experience in strategy development, business management, information technology management, service management, and product management.

For more information, visit Performegy LLC. Connect with @HaroldWaisel on Twitter.

Authors Note: Thanks to Michael Katz at Blue Penguin Development who inspired me to think freely and continue down my
 new career path. If you need a great writer to create content, he’s your man.


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