Disruptive Thinking For Breakthrough Results in Business

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I met a man when I was handling construction projects for the Federal Government in Rivers and Imo state circa 2008. Please don’t ask why a brand advertiser went

into construction, I’ll unashamedly tell you that it was sheer divine inspiration (laughs). Amboosh, 50, is a controversial and interesting figure, a man possessed with some radical notions, but no less a fine thinker. I cannot recall his real man, even though we lived under the same roof for six months, right from the first day I met him I called him by the name of his Hotel: Amboosh.

He had just been deported from the United States of America having spent two and a half decades on the grounds that he was an illegal immigrant. His own version of the story leading to his deportation, by and large, is that he had gained notoriety for cooking blind-folded in his Quick Service Restaurant (branded Mad Scientist Cafe) and on the street of United State, to which he enjoyed huge patronage for his swag. The envious status, in his eyes, made his nearest competitors in the ‘quick service restaurant’ petition constituted authorities that he didn’t have valid papers; as a result, he was bought a free one-way ticket to Nigeria.

On his return home, he was flat broke and out of sort with himself. The characteristic mark of a self-made man abroad made him to believe that he didn’t need the assistance of close relations to get back on his feet. He obstinately refused to go into politics which was the occupation of extended family members and, as it were, a passport to quick riches. He was, however, in possession of a small bungalow bequeathed to him by his father and was in dire need of money to renovate the place and covert it into a money-making enterprise. What he did is an analogous case for business/brand owners and marketers who’ve caught the fever of Disruptive Thinking, and who’re desperately seeking for disruptive ideas and strategies to set themselves apart from others.

The idea which struck him like a lightning bolt from the sky, as he narrated the story, was to buy a bag of beans and sell to women who bought in tins, but there was a twist to it which enabled him sell a lot of bags within a short space of time. When he displayed his basin of beans in front of his house, neighbors thought he had lost his mind. Why, they murmured, would a man who stayed in the US for a long time result to selling beans in a place like that? One of them decided to be his first customer and that was the tipping point.

She bought 3 cups of beans at the market price and as she was about taking her leave, he gave him a stamped and signed receipt. She was startled. It was unheard of. Nobody gives receipts for that kind of thing, especially in a remote place like Ahoada, Rivers State. She went back to the others and narrated her experience. Some minutes later another woman went to buy and she, too, got a receipt. Word got round fast that that man who just returned from the United States now sells beans and issues receipts. On a daily basis, for the next couple of months, more and more people came to buy beans and made him their regular customer. And that was how he raised money to put the bungalow in proper shape to start a business of offering hotel services to prospective customers. And the rest is history.

This narrative is not the big imaginative thinking peculiar to corporate world, but it does have the elements much-needed for breakthrough results. It broke the convention in the unstructured market!

Issuing receipts shattered basic assumptions and preconceived ideas; it generated awareness; it differentiated him; it generated talk-value; it was disruptive!

Convention: Retailers simply sold beans in a polythene bag and that was all.

Disruption: Issue receipts as a way to generate awareness and sales lead.

Objective: To raise money to enter the local hotel market by selling beans in retail.

To sum it, to achieve breakthrough results, one has to identify what the conventions are within a category, target audience, industry and market and think of a way of changing the rules by re-framing the offering and value proposition.

Disruption is not what one does flamboyantly; it is a mode of thinking and acting. A small change, from these aspects, could have massive effect like a trim tab on a boat- one of the smallest components which alters the direction of the boat

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Abdulwaheed Bashar

A brand strategist, who's passionately driven by the entrepreneurial spirit of medium and small-scale enterprises, and a keen observer of the Nigerian market economy.

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