At gap intelligence, we strive to provide our clients with the best, most accurate, and most timely data possible. We are constantly striving for perfection, but as a company, we understand that the only way to learn and grow is by learning from the (rare) mistakes we make. At our annual company kickoff in January, one of the PowerPoint slides really jumped out at me. It read, "Your best teacher is your last mistake." As a self-diagnosed perfectionist, I’ll admit that failing is a contender for number one on my list of greatest fears. Working for a company that not only expects failures to happen, but embraces them as part of a positive process, has changed the way I feel about making mistakes. Though my nature is to be cautious and restrained, I’m now gaining the confidence to take chances and try new things, without that nagging fear of failure in the back of my mind. I’m becoming better at my job and finding new, more efficient ways to get my work done.

Your best teacher is your last mistake.

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Hedgehogs for Life

It's a well-known fact that gap intelligence is big on hedgehogs. Not just the cute little fuzzy/prickly kind, but also the kind that drives our goals and the work we do every day. In a business sense according to Jim Collins, a hedgehog is a way to simplify and guide your goals by acting as a sort of filter. If what you’re doing doesn’t fit into your hedgehog, then it’s probably not worth doing. As a Data Opper, I take pride in our department’s hedgehog: Efficient and expert management of trusted GFD. Just as everything we do at gap should align with both our company hedgehog, and everything we do in the Data Operations deparment should align with our department hedgehog. If it doesn’t, then we need to re-evaluate what we are doing, how we are doing it, and why we are doing it.

David and Goliath

One of gap’s ongoing business goals is to develop new arcs of growth. We understand that one of the staples of a healthy company is the ability and willingness to accept and create change. The 21st century is a fast moving animal. Businesses must innovate in order to stay relevant. Stagnancy equals death in the business world. One of the most obvious examples of this principle is Blockbuster. They were the movie rental giant for over a decade. Then Netflix came along. One could argue that Blockbuster and Netflix had virtually identical company hedgehogs: provide customers with the best in-home movie experience possible. Unfortunately for Blockbuster, Netflix found am much more efficient way of doing it. Blockbuster refused to change for several years before finally biting the bullet and offering an online service, but it was too late. They had already dug their own grave.

Netflix gobbles up Blockbuster

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Netflix, on the other hand, has continued to innovate. With the influx of on-demand availability from cable companies and online streaming services, the company knew that mail-order DVD rentals were not the future of media viewing. So they started offering subscription-based streaming video in addition to their mail-based plans. They have now started adding their own original programming, which has been another huge success for the company. Even with all the innovations, is Netflix still aiming to “provide customers with the best in-home viewing experience possible?" You betcha. They nailed it.

All of us here at gap intelligence love to study companies that have trailblazed their paths to success with innovation. Whether it be media viewing services like Netflix, shoe companies like Zappos, mass online merchants such as Amazon, or wireless technology providers like Apple, these types of companies all have one thing in common: they are not afraid to try something that has never been done before.

We gappers feel the same way. We love the new, the unknown, the not-yet-discovered. We thrive on collaboration, fresh ideas, and taking chances. Do we take the wrong path sometimes? Do we stumble? Do we make mistakes? Absolutely. But at gap, we don’t look at these fizzled ideas as failures. They are proof that our hedgehogs are working.

Herbie hard at work