Too often in business we fail to speak the truth. Instead we say what we think people want to hear and act as we’re told to act. What would be the impact on your business if your customer’s knew what you really thought?
You may remember the story where a small US bag manufacturing company spoke up about what they think of a certain President.
On the washing instruction labels of bags they exported to France, they wrote, in French, words to the effect: We’re sorry our President is an idiot. We didn’t vote for him.
Not surprisingly this little action caused something of a stir. Was it a marketing ploy? I don’t think so. I believe it was a case of speaking up, and speaking honestly. Has it been good for business? Very probably, but I doubt that was the main driver.
I blame the fact that many businesses fail to be honest on our parents. Well maybe not, but it’s certainly past generations who have fed us business values like ‘the customer is always right’, ‘don’t say no to work’ or ‘work hard now, relax later’. This is all madness.
Try these alternative business values for size and imagine the impact on your business if it were widely known this is how you truthfully felt.
Imagine each as a component of your company manifesto – a business values statement that customers and business acquaintances were invited to read before any relationship commenced.
Here’s what a typical soloist’s business values statement might look like:
“I don’t think that clients are always right”
And neither am I. Until we fully understand each other we might reasonably expect there to be differences. It’s part of the process of growing a meaningful, lasting relationship. If I disagree with something you request or say, I will attempt to have you see my point of view or ask for further clarification of your view. I respect your position and ask that you respect mine. Agreement is the key – whether agreement to discuss further, move on, or agreement to part company.
“I do say ‘no’ to work”
Quite often as it happens. I’m clear about what I do and who I do it for. I only work with ideal clients and in that way, strive to only deliver fine work. If you’re not for me I’ll help you find another organisation better suited to support you.
“I have fun at work every day”
I have a life and it shows. I don’t meekly advocate that there should be a balance between life and work, but rather that there’s a balance within life and work. I enjoy today and look forward to tomorrow. My clients are my partners and allow me to be who I am.
So what do you think, would these business value statements attract or repel work? If you were a client or a potential collaborator would you like to work with the soloist holding these views?
If not, maybe you’d best stick with the ‘language of the usual’ and keep plugging the heartless stuff about ‘best practices’ , ‘customer focused’ and ‘results orientated’.
When it comes to the language of the usual you can say what you like, because chances are no-one’s listening.