Being Adaptable

The Swiss Army Knife Model

Right now, especially in the events world, being adaptable is just about the best quality you can have. That, and resilience of course.

My favourite story about a business needing to change to survive is that of Victorinox, but perhaps you would expect that of the company that makes the Swiss Army Knife.

The Swiss Army Knife, a name itself adapted from Offiziersmesser (officer’s knife) by American soldiers in WW2 because the original German was difficult to pronounce, was the nirvana of the pocketknife. At least it was to a young lad like me growing up in the seventies and needing something to help adapt my long-suffering Action Man into whatever I had planned for him that day.

Although back then I’m sure I wouldn’t have been using the hoof cleaner and cuticle pusher for their original designation, even if I knew what they were.

The Swiss Army Knife was one of those essential things in many households and a name that you could imagine going on and on, until humans invent ways of attaching multi-tools to our fingertips or some other questionable technical advancement.

No, the Swiss Army Knife remained THE go-to knick-knack for aspiring Action Men and Women and a number one gift or travel essential for the seasoned air traveller. And therein lay its downfall.

Airport and onboard sales of the pocketknife accounted for a huge portion of the turnover for Victorinox, its maker, and after September 2001 the safety ruling banning all sharp objects from planes meant that around 40% of their sales disappeared almost instantly.

This would be enough to finish many companies off, but Victorinox regrouped, realised that they still had talented designers, manufacturing facilities and connections with airport outlets around the world, and reinvented themselves into the luxury brand that we see today.

A visit to their website and you can buy anything from luggage to fragrances or a smart watch, as well as the iconic survival tool that started it all and what I like to think drove their multifunctional mentality and will to carry on.

We sit here as we have done for many weeks now contemplating an events industry that has all but disappeared and a lot of the frustration we feel, comes from not really knowing how or when it will return.

But we are nothing if not adaptable and as sure as the Swiss Army Knife will always have a knife blade attached, humans will want to conduct their meetings by doing just that - meeting.

We just need to find the right tool to make that happen at a range of distances.

Hmm… maybe time to deploy the hoof cleaner or cuticle pusher?

By  Martin Walton on May 29, 2020

Topics: Industry Insights

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