If you are starting to read this blog with out having read the previous blog ‘personal awareness versus business adaptiveness’ may I take the unusual step of asking you to read the previous entry first !! This blog is about developing the thought that personal awareness is driving new behaviour in people, certainly externally as consumers, and internally as employees, to the extent that their employer may allow new ways of working. More importantly it’s about how new successful business is using ‘awareness’ as a business trait to behave differently and my belief that this may be the real definition of a ‘Service Oriented Business’.

My example is www.threadless.com a T-shirt company who I understand managed sales of $12 million dollars in the first year, profits –not sure exactly how they defined profits – of $5 million, and all with 20 employees. How do I know about Threadless? Through my personal awareness in looking around to see what catches my interest, and finding this company through others comments on business models. Are the figures accurate? I don’t know for sure. But the company certainly exists, a look at its web site, and what’s happening seems to suggest it’s all true. Now I know Threadless exists I can go back to some good old big business behaviours to verify the business / financial details.
The Threadless community, not customers, but a community that is interested in design and fashion, register with Threadless and join the community. They participate in submitting their own designs for T-Shirts, evaluating and commenting on others designs, giving it a mark for ranking purposes, and deciding if they would buy any particular design. Every few weeks Threadless collects the marks, finds the top three designs, prints them and mails them out to all those who said they would buy the design, collects the cash, and that’s it!
No in-house expenses for designers, no risk in producing items that might not sell, no marketing or merchandising, no………, well anything more than a business model that uses ‘awareness’. The ‘awareness’ is the link that makes the community model, fashion conscious people, become aware of this interesting community, showing off their own designs, and by wearing Threadless designs making their own community statements. ‘Awareness’ is the mechanism by which Threadless understands exactly what this community wants, and delivers it to them.
Actually, you can extend this argument to take in ‘awareness’ of who can make the T-Shirts, the globality of finding a source at the right price and quality, the ‘awareness’ of using distribution and cash collection businesses that can serve this model, etc, etc. This to me is a great example of what a ‘Service Oriented Business’ is all about, a collection of ‘services’, in this case business services that can be arranged in a business model that provides a direct connections between the elements.
Can this be applied to big existing enterprises? Yes I think so, and my blog piece ‘no two are ever the same’ shows Toyota successfully applying the same ‘awareness’ model for its Scion brand. Any there any other examples out there? Is this a break through in thinking or just me dreaming?