Jeet Kune Do, or "style without style", was Bruce Lee’s very different way to approach martial arts. Boiled down to its essence, instead of approaching a conflict with an established set of tools, great martial artists should take on the attributes of water: fluid, flexible and adaptable.
Sounds pretty simple, right? And yet years after this philosophy was created, I am still amazed at how counter-intuitive it is - especially in business. By nature, our temptation is to try and apply past successes to future projects, as if we have the ability to create a framework for replicating greatness over and over. Yet regardless of how many times we try, this approach doesn’t work.
Because applying repetition to a process can cause situational blindness. It fails to recognize that every circumstance is different. Every project is different. Every team is different. Every shopper is different.
And these differences make all the difference.
This is especially true with shopper behavior. If you have been doing shopper marketing for any length of time, you find yourself leaning on previous experiences to contextualize current situations. It is too easy to quickly assess certain behaviors based on previously identified notions. This is especially true when you begin working in new categories with new shopper behaviors.
Yet I would challenge you to begin applying Jeet Kune Do to how you approach shoppers. Recognize the dynamic forces of retail, culture and economics at play in varying degrees in each situation. Jeet Kune Do calls us to begin with a willingness to learn, to view similar things in dissimilar ways.
As Lee put it, “I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds.” In other words, start looking for the differences that make all the difference.