Magazine article Business Credit

Becoming a Category of One

Magazine article Business Credit

Becoming a Category of One

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The credit profession regularly, and understandably, obsesses over things called "best practices." These are the procedures, tools and rules that credit departments across the world use to improve their performance as a unit. The ultimate end of all the upgrades, additions and adaptations is to become the best department in their field or their industry. From the start, the goal is to become the best in a pre-established class.

For Joe Calloway, a world-renowned business consultant and this year's Credit Congress Super Session speaker, this is fundamentally flawed thinking. "Don't strive to be a leader in your category," he said. "Create a different category, and be the only one in it."

Such is the idea behind Calloway's much lauded business tome, Becoming a Category of One: How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity and Defy Comparison. Rather than limiting themselves to being the best in whatever field in which they operate, companies, and, by extension, credit professionals, should strive to become so successful that they exist in a category all their own. By applying a series of simple lessons, Calloway suggests companies and employees of all sizes and shapes can put themselves on the road to greatness immediately. "If you're looking for rocket science, you won't find it here," he notes in the book's preface. "The lessons are as simple as they are challenging. Perhaps the most surprising lesson of all is that quite ordinary people who simply do what other people are not willing to do achieve extraordinary success."

One of the first steps every company should take as they work to become a category of one is the deceptively difficult task of establishing who they are. Calloway illustrates the importance of answering this question with an amusing anecdote from a particularly contentious meeting he had while consulting a publishing company on their branding. "I was meeting with the senior leadership team and we were about to launch into an exploration of the question: 'Who are you?'" said Calloway. "About 30 minutes into the discussion, one of the senior vice presidents had had all he could take of me and what he considered to be my rather esoteric and altogether useless search for corporate meaning. …

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