researchable problems

Some problems in business are very well documented, resulting in a lot of literature and knowledge altogether around a specific problem.

Other problems are so exotic, you’re pretty much on your own.

Both are good and bad.

Upon encountering a well-known problem in business, you can immerse yourself in a bath of knowledge. Study all there is to know around the issue at hand.

For instance, when your company is acquiring another company, how do you ensure the inherent culture is (re)aligned, so everybody operates on the same wavelength. Let’s say you want to expand and open up shop in a particular country or state. Transform your restaurant into a franchise business… The list with well-known challenges goes on.

The issue is this. Documentation around well-known challenges is almost always made available from a positive point of view. Meaning, after the challenge has been tackled successfully. What’s even more interesting is learning about how other people failed in an attempt to tackle the said challenge.

Optimize for not failing, don’t optimize for success. Small nuance, big difference.

paranoid absence

Businesses host (internal- meetings with different people from different departments discussing their products and services. Nothing extraordinary here. During those meetings, they might discuss a variety of topics. For now, let’s stay within the realm of the products and services the business externalizes.

When products and services are offered for sale, there has to be a customer on the receiving end. How many times is there a customer in the meeting room, though? If it isn’t a focus group, but a good old regular meeting, there is almost never a customer among the attendees.

Obviously, having a firm empathic understanding of the customer is the job of some of the people within the company, especially the people in marketing and sales. However, without the voice of the customer in the room, the risk of concluding with critical assumptions is substantial.

Keep your customers close.

expensive motivation

Motivating people is hard. Increasingly harder, it seems. Getting people to perform a desired action not only takes a variety of skills, providing incentives can be an expensive enterprise.

Improving your product or service, making it easier to understand and use, is significantly cheaper than increasing your customers’ motivation.

Choose wisely.

mantis shrimp

Which animal do you think has the best eyes? Intuitively, I guess I’d say eagle. The animal with the best eyesight in fact, is called the mantis shrimp. Humbly assuming that there is a chance you may have never heard about this animal.

It’s all about acknowledgment. Success is what people notice of what you did, how they acknowledge your work, and how they reward you for it.

Even though actions speak louder than words, you, and your business, could be the very best in a particular domain. However, without claiming that title, without manifesting your status, another inferior party might be considered as the actual best.

Be a mantis shrimp and an eagle simultaneously.

do right

Ultimately, success is defined by the extent to which you did right by the people who trusted in you.

more human

Supermarkets, restaurants, and many other types of businesses invest in employing fewer people in an attempt to optimize their business.

Supermarkets have quick scan checkout systems. Restaurants have QR menus enabling customers to order straight from their mobile. Reducing the waiters to transporting food between the kitchen and the table.

While it makes much sense from the business point of view to optimize, unfortunately, today’s approach is often to replace (costly) humans. Or increase capacity through technology. Resulting in a generic, less personal approach. The days of pleasant chitchat with the friendly cashier who asks about the family are long gone. Obviously, in a large urban context, it’s nearly impossible to maintain. But this isn’t an all-or-nothing issue.

The goal of implementing technology shouldn’t be to replace humans altogether. It should be to clear time so humans can create genuine added value through a customer-centric approach.

lag

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” That’s what Bill Gates allegedly said.

Looking at technology, the time between invention and commercial success often spans numerous decades. Revolutions, invoked by television, telephone, the internet… took twenty to thirty years to catch on.

The above quote wasn’t quite finished. Bill Gates went on by saying, “don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”

There is time. Embrace new technology calmly and craft a strategy around it to execute meticulously.

ticket weight balance

Score one big deal or a hundred small ones to meet your targets for the year?

Big tickets may have longer lead times than small ones; however, the effort to land a big client or the equivalent (expressed in revenue) for numerous small clients may be relatively similar.

What, if there is such a thing, is the ideal balance then?

Like a gearbox to a car, you need the smaller cogwheels to get going. Shift up once you reach the red line.

environment dictates attitude

We’re all a product of our environment. Depending on where you grow up, the nature and nurture aspects of our personalities are heavily influenced by that same environment.

The environment isn’t limited to a physical location. Your environment is composed of the combination of the (five) people you spend the most time with.

You can train your attitude. Work towards a different mindset, day in, day out. However, without occasionally moving in the circles you aspire to be in, it’s tough to reside in said circles permanently.

The environment you operate in determines your attitude.

local value

Some people in Belgium and the Netherlands are protesting against covid measures for different reasons. Even though the extent to which liberties have been limited are fundamentally different, both in severity and duration, some protesters claim the measures are too draconian.

Driving through the entire region (Belgium and the Netherlands) takes but a couple of hours. Regardless of the region’s small size, cultural differences occur logically.

In business, as in life, your service or product’s desired effect may be perceived differently within different subsets of your population, even in a tiny geographical region.

If a can of Coke tastes different around the world, it’s recommendable for all businesses alike to continuously ask for feedback throughout different segments of your customer base.