I catch up with a good mate regularly to discuss how we both do business. We’ve been doing this for about 10 years and I always walk away inspired and challenged.
Into our second coffee at the start of this year, we were talking about how not all business models are sustainable and how many keep doing what they did 10, 20 years ago but expect to make the same return they did way back when. To give the business new life they start using gimmicks like heavily discounting but the writing’s on the wall: it’s the beginning of the end.
“It’s like jumping the shark,” he said. The term was coined from the Happy Days TV episode when Fonzie literally jumped a shark while water skiing… in his leather jacket! Enough said.
From then on, people would refer to a show that had gone past its use-by-date and, in a vain attempt to give it new life, would throw its characters into ever more outlandish situations, such as “jumping the shark”. Once a show has jumped it may flounder for a while longer, but will (mercifully) sink like a stone.
sooner or later, you’ll find traction and
gain momentum – or in TV idiom terms ‘grow the beard…
So why do some enormously successful shows (Friends, The Simpsons, Grey’s Anatomy) end up jumping the shark, while others avoid the fate? Doctor Who recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and yet vast swathes of the internet are still dedicated to debate about who is the best Doctor (arguably, David Tennant has taken over Tom Baker’s mantle).
Jumping the shark is a great illustration of the importance of knowing when to maintain the course you’re on, when to change or when to bow out.
There are times when you just have to keep plugging away, because, sooner or later, you’ll find traction and gain momentum – or in TV idiom terms ‘grow the beard’ (the antonym to ‘jump the shark’, when a show hits its stride: a reference to the introduction of Commander Riker in season two of Star Trek ).
Certainly, there is a time to call it quits. Having a strategy in place to exit your business is just as essential as managing the day-to-day risks of operating a practice.
There are also times to shake up what you’re doing – and here’s where we need to avoid getting anywhere near that large scary fish.
When a business lurches along without a vision, without taking the time for considered, thoughtful decision-making; that’s when it ends up jumping the shark. Perhaps the most vital component in avoiding that shark jump is self-awareness and honest self-appraisal.
At mivision, we’re all for incorporating flexibility into business practices and procedures. It is crucial to keep on top of trends, embrace new technologies and adapt to changes in the market. It’s even worth taking a risk on something completely out of the box now and again.
Really wish Seinfeld didn’t jump the shark at the Superbowl.