This week’s focus: Some years ago, I led a project to run a trial of a new store format in London. We started with a single store and did a lot of work to change its product range, create a better layout, extend the opening hours, improve cash-taking and make it a more enjoyable place to shop.

The results were amazing and we saw sales uplifts of around 20% from day one. What’s more, the customer research was uniformly positive. We thought we had found the holy grail of store format development.

We hadn’t.

I had wanted to believe our own brilliance so much that I had failed to understand that, first, a new office block had opened near the store as we were making the changes, increasing its footfall, and, second, over 75% of the benefits were taking place during the extended hours. As a result, subsequent trials in other stores failed to deliver the growth that would justify wider roll-out and the project was halted.

A critical role of the manager and business leader is to be a scientist. We must constantly strive to create and test new ideas that will move the business forward. Critically, however, we must also observe the results from these tests closely and be open to whatever the empirical evidence suggests, rather than trying to bend the evidence to our own ‘beliefs’.

What beliefs and prejudices may be clouding your own view of your business, and how could a more scientific mindset help you accelerate its growth?


Off The Record: Chemistry by Semisonic

So, for a while, we conducted experiments

In an apartment by the River Road

And we found out that the two things we put together

Had a bad tendency to explode


© Stuart Cross 2018. All rights reserved.