An executive named James gave a presentation to his CEO and management team to persuade them to rethink the way they were doing business. After outlining the negative effects of the current processes they were using, he concluded his speech with an interesting metaphor for change.
"We need to do a Dick Fosbury," he told them. "Some of you in this room will remember Dick Fosbury, the Olympic high jumper. Until Dick Fosbury came along, all high jumpers used the same approach – the feet first approach called the Western roll. Fosbury competed and won – by turning conventional wisdom upside down. Fosbury went over the bar headfirst.
The press called it the Fosbury Flop and Fosbury went on to win the Olympic gold medal. Today Fosbury's Flop is the standard high jumping technique.
Our business has to do a Fosbury Flop. We have to innovate, spend more on research and development and create new products that will leap-frog the competition."
His speech worked. The CEO latched on to the Flosbury Flop metaphor and asked him which Fosbury Flops he believed were possible. James replied that there were two product innovations in early development but they needed extra funds and extra staff to take them to market. Seven months later James had the additional funding and staff he needed.