Why Dillinger Should Have Changed His Game
While watching the movie Public Enemies, I thought about a variety of change strategies that John Dillinger might have taken to stay current. I was intrigued by the character as it was portrayed in this movie (and it didn’t hurt that Johnny Depp was the star 🙂 )
According to the book/movie, John Dillinger began as a charismatic professional practicing the dark side of business. His area of speciality – bank robbery – included some initial advantages: 1) the crime was not prevalent and could still catch people by surprise; 2) there was no legislation that would allow the pursuit of criminals across state lines; 3) there was no federal agency mandated to apprehend the criminals. The FBI was basically created because of criminals like Dillinger, and they were disadvantaged because their initial employees were attorneys, most of whom did not know how to handle firearms. These facts helped to create tremendous intitial success for Dillinger. But then the game started to change.
The FBI augmented their staff with more experienced lawmen; a national focus was created around apprehending the bank robbers; local townspeople began to arm themselves and declared war on the criminals; but, most of all, the element of surprise was taken away. One of Dillinger’s fellow gangsters recommended that he move to the gambling circuit where the most money was made. Dillinger refused to change his game. He stuck with his comfort zone, and he lost.
Let’s think about this from the business side of success. I can’t tell you the number of sales, service, and training groups in company that suffer from the Dillinger Complex. They have created their game, and been sticking to it for anywhere from five to twenty years. They like what they do and refuse to change to meet the new needs of their clients. There are training groups that still offer classes that have outdated references, models, and application methods. There are sales groups still teaching the annoying sales techniques perfected in the seventies.
Here are some actual comments I’ve heard recently that I would call the Dillinger Complex:
1. This Social Media stuff just takes up too much time. I tell my guys they need to focus on selling rather than talking to friends.
2. Why would I teach 2 hour sales classes? Salespeople can make the time if they want good training. My two day class covers everything they need to know so we don’t have to bring them back in for training.
3. I’m not going to e-mail my customer even if they ask me to. I like the voice-to-voice connection.
Think about it seriously – are you evolving with the times? Or are you digging in like Dillinger? Here’s a tip – evolution is not a boomerang. If business is changing, you must find ways to change with it. Listen to your customers. Provide what they need in the format that works for their real world. Keep moving, fight comfort, and change your game!