Who should be afraid of Randy? Don't know who Randy is? Well, until a few minutes ago I did not know either, that is until I read a piece from Spiegel On-Line. Randy Baseler is vice president of Marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes and frankly he does not seem to like Airbus at all:
"....What I was really saying was this: It's great for Boeing because with the announcement of the A350 (a twin-engine airplane based on the A330), Airbus has validated what we've been saying since the launch of the 777 - that twin-engine airplanes are more efficient for short, medium, or long-range flights than airplanes with four engines.
What's even more interesting about the A350 offering is that it throws the Airbus product strategy out the window. Their strategy for 20 years has been that twin-engine airplanes like the A330 were the most efficient way to service short and medium range routes, but that you needed four engines for the long haul, or "4 engines 4 long haul" as their slogan went.
So, what happened? Apparently something changed.
Here's another way to think about it. The A350, being an A330 derivative, is good enough to obsolete the A330 and A340. But the key is, the A350 still falls short. It just isn't a breakthrough product like the 787... "
Where does this quote come from? From Randy's blog (to be more accurate from his journal (which walks and talks like a bog anyway)).
It is interesting to observe that a prominent marketing executive has decided to use a blogging device not only to promote his firm but also to go after his main competitor. Read the whole piece entitled "What happened to "4 engines 4 long haul?" and you'll see that his approach to competition is far from being soft indeed!
Well, the next question is whether Airbus should be afraid of Randy and will (or should) retaliate? To the best of my knowledge, executives at Airbus do not run blogs. They certainly should. Not that they should just do what Boeing does but they should view the blog as a way of making sure that "perception does not distort reality" too much. And, Randy seems to know a lot about perception!
The other pending (more generic) question is what corporations should do with blogs? These days they look a bit like chicken in front of forks": How to use them? Randy teaches one way of using them although I am not sure it pays to "blog down" your competitors in the long run. You are better off explaining what you do best, how you do it. Indeed, a lot of corporations tend to take for granted that outside people (whoever they are) know everything about them, that their so-called "value proposition" is obvious. Far from true! Never take for granted such a thing: It simply means that you do not care about the outside world. Worse the outside world gonna sooner or later recognize this and hold you accountable for it.
In the real estate business they say that the three most important words are "location, location, location". Well, I tend to think that in the corporate world the three most important words are "explain, explain, explain." Easily said, not easily done. An explanation that works for shareholders may not work for customers or employees. That is precisely what makes the corporate job so interesting. More and more value is co-created, which means that the legal boundaries of the modern corporation are somehow meaningless. What matters are its informal (economic in the broad sense of the term) boundaries. In a nutshell, terra cognita does not matter, terra incognita does matter. The challenge is to locate terra incognita and then to be able to talk, to exchange with its inhabitants. Either you embark like a modern Columbus to discover terra incognita or you give a chance to terra incognita to locate you. The two ways are not mutually exclusive. The second way is where blogs are most useful: You send signals, you create options that you or terra incognita may one day exercise to your mutual benefit.
Too optimistic a view? Best way to know is to try just like Randy (and others, chief among them Jonathan Schwartz, Sun Microsystems CEO) did!