Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Clear thinking and innovation needed in the floor covering industry

Christopher Ramey
Neither the economy or consumer confidence will likely improve any time soon.  Clear thinking and innovation are necessary for our floor covering industry to increase revenue and become more profitable.   

Executives often dismiss long term issues during difficult times; too many other issues to resolve.  It is now time to take a new and long view of our industry’s critical issues.  For example, unit sales of carpet were decreasing for years before the financial implosion.  Most floor covering retailers did not recognize the decline because it was offset by price increases.  There are many more critical issues to consider.  Paraphrasing hockey great Wayne Gretzky: “are you going where the puck is or where it is going to be?” 

One of my favorite authors is Ed De Bono.  He is considered the father of lateral thinking.  He writes that we should all be aware of “errors in thinking.”  I share this because clear thinking is an imperative for the flooring industry to remain relevant and become vibrant.  He writes that there are five such errors in thinking:

1.    “Partialism
This error occurs when the thinker observes the problem through one perspective only.  That is, the thinker examines only one or two factors of the problem and arrives at a premature solution.

2.    Adversary Thinking
This is a "you are wrong, so I should be right" type of reasoning. 

3.    Time Scale Error
This is a kind of partialism in thinking in which the thinker sees the problem from a limited time-frame.  

4.    Initial Judgment
 Here, the thinker becomes very subjective.  Instead of considering the issue or problem objectively, the thinker approaches it with prejudice or bias.

5.    Arrogance and Conceit
This error is sometimes called the "Village Venus Effect" for the villagers on a small island who think that the most beautiful girl in the world is the most beautiful girl in their village; i.e. the thinker who believes that there is no better solution other than that he has already found.” 
Innovative thinking requires cognizance of errors in thinking.  As an industry we must find new ways to solve old problems rather than accepting the status quo or the “same old same old.”  

The first 30 years of my career were focused on business management in the floor covering industry.  My client base has expanded over the last five years to include hospitality, yachting, jets, retailers, sporting clubs and many categories in-between.  I work with many brilliant people.  The common thread is that they sell products and services in the premium and luxury segments.  Another commonality is that they are particularly good thinkers.  I will not accept anything less, and neither should you.

Think differently.  It may be the only way home. - Chris Ramey

Chris Ramey is president of Affluent Insights and a member of the Floor Covering Institute.


  1. Chris,

    I do love that you bring up lateral thinking and the imperative to think clearly and be innovative! There's so much opportunity ahead for those who think differently...

    Thanks for sharing the inspiration.


  2. Christine, thank you for your kind words. I appreciate it – particularly since you’re one of the best thinkers in the industry.

  3. I received two calls today re/ this insertion. The first was an old friend who thought “partialism” described the industry. The other was someone I didn’t know; a rep with a major manufacturer. She believes the collective errors in thinking are so pervasive that they are the root of the demise of independent floor covering retailers.

    I’m not that pessimistic. But, I’d like to hear from others in the industry. What do you think?