Today shares another observation from my visit to the World of Coke. One of their movies asked the question: “What makes Coke Coke?”  In the end, they came up with three answers:  unparalleled taste, uniform quality and universal accessibility.

I would have guessed something similar to taste and uniformity, but until my visit I had not considered Coke’s distribution system.  Bottlers and distributors take Coke products to some of the most remote places to ensure that you can get a bottle of the beverage almost anywhere.  Even today, Coke is delivered by dugout canoes, bicycle cart, dogsleds and wagons.  

This commitment to accessibility has been a mantra of the company since the 1920s when then-president Robert Woodruff “vowed to put Coca-Cola ‘within an arm’s reach of desire.'”  They were the first to go beyond the soda counter to gas stations, sporting events and businesses, and invented the first “six-pack” carrying case to facilitate the product’s mobility.  It has served them well as they hold market share in most major venues.

Most people spend all their time trying to make a better product, but I think there is a lesson here from Woodruff and Coke. Your product/service needs to be accessible in order for people to experience it.  Put some thought into your distribution system and consider whether improving that will take you further than enhancing the product itself.

— beth triplett

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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