After 146 years of operation, The Greatest Show on Earth-the traveling Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus-will end May 21, 2017.
Truthfully I haven’t been to the circus for decades, but who would have thought it would leave town and never come back?
As a company official stated in a recent article, the main reasons for the circus’s closing are:
- declining audiences,
- increased operating costs, and
- changing public tastes.
Simple enough. Any time fewer buyers show up, you can’t pay increased costs, customers who want a different product or service than what you have, and you don’t respond to those changes, what happens? I think this Peter Drucker quote sums it up: “An established company which, in an age demanding innovation, is not able to innovate, is doomed to decline and extinction.”
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus failed to innovate.
Actively commit to keeping innovation and creativity alive in your organization. Become an Innovation Ambassador.
As leaders, what can we learn from this classic business being forced to close? Commit to building, growing, and sustaining an Innovative Culture in these ways:
- Lead by getting out in front of your day-to-day problems and address the challenges you will have 3, 6, 9, 12, and 24 months out. This takes a commitment to thinking and planning.
- Make innovation and continuous improvement a way of life in your organization. This takes commitment, communication, and constant positive reinforcement.
- Stay close to your customers and listen to what they say-then respond. This takes commitment, effort, and recognition that you exist for them.
Don’t fall into the trap of saying “that won’t happen here” or “my job is safe” or “we are better than our competitors.” If you do, you may unknowingly join the ranks of Barnum & Bailey in the near future.
It doesn’t matter if your organization is big or small, old or new-or if you’re the CEO, the administrative assistant, or the forklift operator-it’s imperative to become an Innovation Ambassador.