The Secret Life of a Stripper
Sometimes I shake my head at how seemingly noisy, complex and confused the world has become. We are bombarded with information and stimuli from every angle. The internet connects us with the world 24/7/365. We can download movies from home, order a pizza from our TV and conduct a global business from our smart-phone. If we are so inclined with one click we can even join Kim Kardashian’s 14m Twitter followers and track her every move. Isn’t this wonderful?
I wonder. The trick, I believe, is not to get caught up in the puffery of it all and only participate in those activities that truly produce REAL additional value for you. This is the art of stripping – the essence of which is stripping out activities, processes, products, services and or anything else that uses time/resources and doesn’t produce a valuable result.
Importantly, “strippers” deal in problem solving rather than opportunity creation. This is a critical distinction that is at the heart of stripping. What strippers do is look for real problems to solve – inefficient markets, unsatisfied customer groups etc. They are less concerned with developing something sexy and cool or looking for the next big thing. If what they are doing doesn’t solve a real market problem then they’ll drop it and move on. They are very disciplined and efficient. While great opportunities might emerge from their work, strippers know that it has only occurred because a real problem has been solved in the process.
Strippers speak in plain English and ask more questions than most people. They assume nothing and dig and dig until they unearth the core of any problem. Along the way they push aside obstacles, smokescreens and entrenched behaviours to get to the truth of any matter. They are constantly cataloguing, discarding and rating the importance of everything they uncover. In the end they are seeking to unearth the root cause(s) of the underlying problem in its purest, uncensored state. Only then will they begin figuring out how to solve it.
To do that they start by asking three simple questions:
- What specific problem are we solving?
- Is it worth solving – i.e. if we solve it will the result be valuable for our target audience?
- Do we need to do it now?
The grocery chain, Aldi, is a great example of a stripper. They know what they are good at and they stay focused on it. Their brand message is clear and unambiguous. They are also disciplined. An example of this is their tight product range which never exceeds 1,000 items. They regularly introduce new products into their stores but when they do they delete existing products from the range to make room. Consequently, competition for shelf space is high and every product’s financial return is scrutinised and analysed. If there is a better financial option for that shelf space then that product is deleted and the new one added in. It’s classic stripper behaviour.
Strippers like to keep things simple. They know that the world is complex so they focus on de-constructing difficult matters into bite-sized problems that they can progressively solve. They efficiently fight their way through waste, confusion and clutter with a single-minded purpose – to solve real problems that will ultimately create value (not noise) for an appreciative and hopefully large audience. It’s not glamorous but that’s the secret life of a stripper…