Monthly Archives: December 2011

A Christmas Moment

It’s once again ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ (or at least I think that’s what the song says!).  Of course in reality we’re all rushing about; trying to get work wrapped up before the break, make sure we haven’t forgotten Auntie Gladys’ annual consignment of ‘Quality Streets’ and grotto-ify the house with tinsel, twigs and baubles.

But, in the midst of all of this we can hopefully look forward to one or two wonderful moments (maybe even three or four!) peculiar to this time of year.  And that got us thinking…

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

And, of course, should you wish to send any festive greetings our way, we can be contacted at:

Nothing Fails like Success

I’ve just been searching through my old notebooks to find a list of addresses of family and friends to whom I want to send festive greetings. It’s in one of them. Somewhere! Predictably I go through this exercise every year.  When eventually the list is retrieved I make a solemn vow to either create a spreadsheet or at least to put it somewhere where I will find it next year.  As yet the addresses remain stubbornly elusive.
On the positive side, I’ve become reacquainted with pages of thoughts collected from conferences I’ve attended.  Ideas worthy of note but forgotten in this jumbled archive of assorted notebooks.  One set of pages was my record of a presentation by Stephen Covey.  The first line, and title for this blog, caught my eye.  Even though it was delivered before the Lehman crash 2008, in a time of plenty, the concept has resonance and is very much the subject of this site.
Covey’s primary message was that ‘successful practices no longer work today’. He used a wonderful metaphor to illustrate the point. 
If you are in London trying to navigate your way around the city with a map of Amsterdam to find your destination, it won’t be too surprising if you can’t find the place.  Your first inclination is to try harder.  After all, if we work harder success eventually arrives.  But you don’t arrive! The only thing that arrives is a sense of frustration.  Maybe you have an attitude problem.  Get this sorted, you need a PMA (positive mental attitude).  Get psyched up, come on you can do it!  Unfortunately, however positive you become, you will remain lost.
This has nothing to do with your behaviour or attitude, just a bad map. You have a map problem. 
Breakthroughs come from ‘breaking with’.  Changing what you are doing, finding a new accurate map is the key to making a difference. The map is the paradigm; the way we do things around here.  At one time the accepted paradigm was that the earth was at the centre of the Universe.  When a more accurate map showed this was not the case, unsurprisingly people wouldn’t accept it.  Changing a paradigm is really hard for people to even contemplate, let alone adopt. Maybe, the way we do business, the way we deal with our customers, how we work and the like might benefit from a new map.
Since I’ve already redoubled my effort, adopted a PMA and achieved frustration, maybe it’s the time to adopt a different approach towards finding this damned Christmas card list!

Customers as Partners

How often do we hear words like; ‘We work in partnership with our customers’. Welcome to yet more rhetoric. It’s as if we say it often enough, loud enough, to as many people as possible, it will become more than wishful thinking. Rarely is your customer relationship a partnership, mainly because of the contractual arrangements, self-preservation and ego that gets in the way of it becoming so. 
What sort of partnership do you have with your business to business customers?
Are you a supplier?  This means you have a contract to deliver services. When you re-tender, you and all your competitors will face the same level playing field.  You will compete on price.  They will all make extravagant claims about their excellent service.
Are you a supplier of choice?  In which case, you deliver everything in your contract, on time, on budget, to the accepted standard.  When the contract is re-tendered every competitor will claim they can deliver what you have done at roughly the same price.  The advantage you have is some evidence that you are up to the task.  Your customer hopefully thinks; ‘better the devil we know’.
Are you a partner?  You deliver everything that is expected. The difference is in the way you work together to deliver.  You make every effort to understand what success looks like for your partners and together to achieve this.  It’s as if you share the same goals.  You have become the partner of choice. How could they manage without you?
These principles apply to all types of customer relationship not just business to business.
  • Are you regarded simply as a supplier?
  • Are you a supplier of choice?
  • Do your customers engage with your business and choose to become involved?
If you want to make partnership the reality of your customer relationship, first, accept what sort of relationship your customers perceive they have with you. Don’t believe your own rhetoric. If you want to have something different, then, identify what behaviours you need to demonstrate in order for your customers to choose to join you in a relationship which can truly be defined as a partnership.
Remember if you don’t deliver to their expectations you will quickly find yourselves as ‘just another supplier’ accompanied by all of the uncertainty that comes with this status.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how Paradigmantics can help your organisation to develop more engaged partners, contact: