Don’t Become a Cliché!

Accountability Transformation


Key Point: Every business segment or category ends up establishing clichés; the widespread beliefs that govern the way people think or do business in a certain space. Frankly, they become so commonplace that they’ve typically lost their ingenuity and impact, until challenged.

As an example, it used to be a cliché that you stayed at a hotel when away from home. Suddenly, the cliché is challenged and companies like Airbnb and VRBO evolve and take huge market share from the hotel industry.

Another cliché is that you need to call for a taxi to get a ride, and that you should give the driver a tip. Well, now we all know the meaning behind the term “Uberized.”

Or perhaps another cliché is that you need to watch your favorite television at a certain time. Huh? That’s old school, and Netflix “binge watching” is the new norm. If you become a great observer, you will see clichés everywhere in one of the following categories:

  1. Interaction clichés: What the customer experiences when buying products and services. (For example: You need to be present and fill in paper work to access a car (really, ZipCar)?
  2. Product clichés: Product attributes are as advertised as “Soda is sweet and aspirational,” (really, Red Bull)?
  3. Pricing clichés: Men pay high prices on a per/unit basis for razor blades (really? Dollar Shave Club offers a higher value subscription model).

I was recently introduced this concept by Luke Williams, the author of Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable, and it really got me observing how many clichés are out there waiting to be attacked and disrupted. It also got me thinking about the risk of me becoming a cliché… For example, this is what a Chief People Officer does. “Really? What if someone out there is bringing more CPO value as determined by interaction, products or pricing? Well… I will be “disrupted.” It’s only a matter of time, unless I refuse to become a cliché.

Character Moves:

  1. Be more than being the best at what you do by continuously exploring ways of being the only one that does what you do. Do not allow yourself (or your department/function/group/team/company, etc.) to become a cliché. Disrupt yourself!! Before it’s too late.
  1. Routine is somewhat comforting but also a set up for being disrupted. The most advanced people and organizations are constantly provoking discomfort by stepping away from routines. Purposefully try new things to help you challenge clichés about yourself. Consciously and proactively turn your organizational clichés upside down by observing how other industries do what you do very differently. As an example, most companies provide after order care using call centers to provide customer service. What if you found a company where customers (not full time employees) were paid to solve other customer problems? Hint: It exists already. Could this apply to your company? Or do you like your clichés?

Attacking clichés in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: Ambitious Millennials quickly learn that some of those in the “real world” enjoy comfort and routine far more than we thought or hoped. Even if we have brave new ideas, sometimes they just die. What can we do? The concept that risks shouldn’t be taken if they don’t have to be, becomes more acceptable, which is just the norm… Whoa whoa whoa, wait, that sounds pretty cliché to me. Let’s break that. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis