What’s All This “3D Thinking” About?


How do the best business get ahead, and stay ahead, of their competitors? They do things that their competitors aren’t, or even better, can’t!

We call it ‘Thinking in 3D!’  That means they are ‘Dramatically and Demonstrably Different from their competitors. They establish an “unmatchable ‘bundle’ of products, services, skills, methods and practices that differentiate them from their competitors” .

How do they do it? We’ve spent over 23 years researching, working with, and learning from these 3D Businesses – forward thinkers (and ‘doers’!) of all shapes, sectors, sizes and stages of their development.

As a result, we have identified 7 Characteristics that we see them live and breathe in everything they do. It’s not the latest ‘fad’ or hyped ‘panacea’ for business success, nor is it a list of do’s and don’ts or ‘magical answers’, but a transferable model that helps businesses get ahead, and stay ahead, of their competitors.

So, what are those 7 Characteristics? Well, of course, you can read about them in our 320 page book that explores them in detail, but before that, here’s a brief summary:

#1: Get That Vision Thing!

3D Businesses know where they’re going! All their people do too!  They have a clear vision that inspires, engages and motivates everyone in the business. Not a set of financial figures or ‘pie in the sky’ dreams, but a meaningful picture of the future that creates focus, direction, passion and commitment.

They develop committed, motivated and effective people at every level and proactively get ‘buy in’ to their vision. They ensure that everyone understands where they ‘fit in’ and how they are doing. It’s about ‘engagement’ – that means creating, encouraging and rewarding ‘leadership’ at every level of the business!

#2: Think In 3D!

3D Businesses recognise that ‘same as sucks’ and strive to do things that makes them ‘stand out from the crowd’, get people talking about them and telling others. It’s about establishing a ‘Dramatic Difference“an unmatchable ‘bundle’ of products, services, skills, methods and practices that differentiate the business from its competitors”. It’s stuff that competitors aren’t doing – even better, it’s stuff that competitors can’t do!

Dramatic Difference is only any good if customers want it, recognise it, and are prepared to pay (more) for it. 3D Businesses ‘choose ‘em or lose ‘em’! That means that they ‘choose’ the customers they want to work with, and differentiate themselves in their chosen markets and ensure that their business generating activity ‘delivers’.

#3: Create ‘Delighted’ And ‘Devoted’ Customers!

3D Businesses often ‘Demonstrate‘ their ‘Dramatic Difference‘ by creating ‘delighted’ and ‘devoted’ customers. Customers who come back for more and tell others. It starts with being ‘easy to buy from’ and ‘easy to deal with’ in every customer interaction and it means everyone focussing on customers wherever they are in the business.

They strive to ‘Delight’ their customers! Not ‘have a nice day’, or ‘buy one get one free’ gimmicks, but going the extra mile and ‘exceeding customer expectations’. By definition, this subsequently raises customer expectations – 3D Businesses relish and embrace this, and work hard to raise the bar. They make their customers feel ‘valued’ and ‘devoted’ to the business – they have high expectations and consistently receive a great experience (‘great’ as defined by the customers, not the business!)

#4: Forget CRM, Think MCR! Maximise Customer Relationships!

3D Businesses have a total customer focus and are proactive (even obsessive!) in focusing their efforts and resources to demonstrate it! It’s not about CRM, but it’s about MCRMaximising Customer Relationships: proactively developing relationships that give the best to and get the best from the customers that they want.

MCR is not a one way relationship, and is definitely not a passive thing. It’s about engagement. As a result, they develop ‘dialogue, not diatribes’ and work hard at ongoing engagement with their customers, their networks and their communities. A pro-active approach to spotting and maximising opportunities is an integral ingredient too. In simple terms, ‘maximising‘ opportunities is the pay off! They train, develop and encourage their people to maximise those relationships!

#5: Create An UBER Culture!

In 3D Businesses, ‘culture’ is an integral part of the Dramatic Difference and gives customers reasons to come back and to tell others. Their ‘culture’ is very tangible and customers experience that ‘culture’ simply by talking to and interacting with employees, whether it’s by email, on the telephone or face to face.

We define ‘culture’ as ‘the way we do things around here’ and 3D Businesses work hard to create an UBER Culture that creates real competitive advantage and reinforce their ‘Dramatic Difference’. They ensure that: everyone Understands the culture and what’s expected of the them and that employees consistently behave in line with that culture; Systems and processes are Built to reinforce and support that culture; employees are  Encouraged, Enabled and Empowered to live the culture; and they Reward and Recognise those that ‘live’ it!

#6: KeeP In Control!

In this ever increasingly fast paced world, getting and keeping in control is critical. 3D Businesses establish and use Key Performance Indicators to lead and drive the business, and provide the people who need it, the information they need, when they need it, in a format they understand! It’s all about sharing information with people in a format they can use, and it’s about giving them the authority and skills to use it! Information is good, but it’s what you do with it that counts!  They also establish a clear profit focus and get ownership of the ‘numbers’ at every level. It’s called ‘empowerment’, and 3D Businesses do this well!

#7: Innovati’ON’!

3D Businesses recognise that Developing their Dramatic Difference is an ongoing process, and consistently build on what they’ve got. It’s about ‘innovatiON’ – that’s the ‘successful exploitation of new ideas’ – not necessarily lots of new products and services, only hiring ‘creative types’ and hours of ‘blue sky thinking’.

It’s about having proactive systems and processes to improve what they do, creating a supportive climate for ideas generation, encouraging people to constructively challenge what they do, and creating time and resource to make the ideas work!

3D Businesses create time, systems and processes for making innovation work and encourage (insist) their people do the same. They recognise that ‘standing still’ actually means ‘going backwards’ and they therefore drive and develop their Dramatic Difference continuously. It is not left to chance!

We’ve written a book: Think in 3D!

The 7 Characteristics of Dramatically and Demonstrably Different Businesses

Download A Free Extract

Now Available On Kindle