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Cold Stone MBA: We Need Rainy Days

August 7, 2012

Once again the Y-Gens at the store amazed me, inspired me, and gave me hope that the world is indeed going to thrive under their influence…

Rainy days at Cold Stone are darned quiet.  You stock, you clean, you sit and look at each other until the die hard customer comes in.  During one of our few rainy days this summer, staff on duty took a different approach to spending their time:  they developed and launched a new product line in the store.  Of course, being true Y-Gens, they didn’t ask me if it was ok, and they didn’t get any kind of corporate approval.  Once they were convinced that the offering was viable, they did submit a “suggestion” to corporate, complete with photos and their test market data (also collected that day).

The new line consisted of a Mexican line of products:  ice cream tacos, quesadillas and nachos.  They developed the recipes, the pricing, and sold the products to get customer feedback.  That really killed me – sold the products – not even thinking about giving away their new idea for free!  We can definitely learn from them as we continue to drive our own pricing down…

So what can we take away from this?  We need rainy days in our own firms too.  Time to let our ideas flow, try new things, and test the waters with these new things.  I went to a meeting a year or so ago where the speaker focused on how to create quiet time in your day to do just that.  She talked about driving without our cell phones in our ears or the radio on to give ourselves time to think.  She talked about creating 15 minutes every few hours to reboot our mental computers, clearing the noise and making room for productive, creative thought.

Where did the idea go?  Well, so far, nowhere.  I’m sure it’s buried in the inbox of a Boomer too busy to deal with it at the moment.  But four Y-Gens are now self-educated in how to develop, test and lauch a new offering.  It’s amazing what can happen on a rainy day!

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