Friday 23 May 2008

Get a new compass

If money is dictating your path in life then turn to your conscience. And if your conscience has a bad sense of direction then read on. Hopefully my blog entry here today will give you some new ideas or at least something to think about.

Money should not be our guide in the continuing battle of quality VS quantity. Unfortunately, in the real world, it more than often dictates the direction we go in or it is used as a crouch to steer a course because we simply are too full of shit. Come on. It looks like vanity is fast replacing sanity. Shifting responsibility to the money Gods is really pretty uninspiring. I reckon the real reason we think expensive stuff is good is because we are lazy. Expensive stuff is popular and popular has to mean it is good, right? Using one’s imagination to come up with a better way requires effort and time. Now this is really confusing since time, as we know, is money. Perhaps this paradox will never be fully understood

Let’s take a look at the computer industry for some insight. Software can be expensive and it can be quite complex. Take a big service oriented corporation, for example, that has hundreds or thousands of customers they have to look after. They implement a customer management database in an effort to provide a better service. A lot of the time it works out but then a lot of the time it does not. Why is this? An extensive customer management database more often than not takes a long time to develop and a lot of money is spent doing so. And often, the final product is not what was envisioned. Or, the company profile has changed. Or, the initial leaders of the project have moved onto to something new. So, what happens is the database system does not get a whole lot of support and the users of the package ultimately suffer. But, they are encouraged to use the database because so much time and money was spent putting it into action. And let’s not forget the real challenge which is simply to build better relationships. In the quality quantity continuum this discussion is paramount.

So, ultimately we get encouraged to utilize some expensive software database because we spent so much developing it. And again, let me stress what the real challenge is: LOOKING AFTER CUSTOMERS. Since when has relationship building been replaced by automated e-mail? Yes yes, it is very sweet that I now get an e-mail message on my birthday but I would be a lot happier if someone simply returned my phone calls once in a while. And speaking of office automation, please, I am tired of pressing 1 for more options. Give me a human operator any day.

This really is a tough one. I can fully appreciate why it is hard to simply discard work that has taken up so much time and money. But, one needs to remember that time is in fact money, and if time is going to be wasted, er, if more money needs to be spent then a plan needs to be made. Someone very wise called Neil once told me “Some people spend time to save money while others spend money to save time.” And sometimes we need to spend more money by simply moving on. And this is what the progress paradox is all about. Moving on is about change and change as we all know is not an easy thing to handle. I could go on and on about this but I think we all have the same point of view. So, let’s summarize where we are. Time is money. Time is also precious. More precious than money. And sometimes we need to spend a little more money in an effort to free up a little more time. Which really means it is going to be difficult to find peace in this world because we can improve on everything, all the time. Every system we have we can enhance. Every service we offer we can improve. Everything we do in this world we can in fact to better. But this costs. So, let’s end our summation with a thought on competition – if you don’t jack up your act your competitors will. Seriously folk, if the bottom line is guiding you then you your next line may be the unemployment line. This big global IT shake-up, for example, that has affected so many first time stock buyers around the world happened because money guided so many people in the past decade. Stick to fundamentals is what I say.

Let me end today’s VLOG with some insights from the film industry. Motion pictures are a big part of our lives and it is this medium that influences so many people. So much can be learnt from the movie industry. But why this industry? Because movie making is like magic and everyone wants to know how to make a tiger disappear out of cage. Movies are an illusion. And so is the bottom line. And that is because a business does not exist to meet some target. If you think that is the case then the illusion really fooled you big time. A great business, like a great motion picture serves to inspire and enrich your life. Some great lessons can be learnt from the struggle that occurs when creating a motion picture. It is the identical struggle that that a big service oriented corporation faces when it has to change its customer management system.

So, if you are looking to stall the roll-out of your new service offering because you are not going to make your quarterlies then please do us all a favour and call it a day. And if you are going to delay the upgrade of that new product enhancement because the numbers are more important then just think what the bottom line is really about – customer service. Stop being guided by numbers and targets and start focusing on the fundamentals. Look after your customers and they will look after you. Look after your customers and those quarterlies will take care of themselves. Remember, the most successful ventures in this world are those that were built as a labour of love.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker


Anonymous said...

Can't agree with you more. I miss those Sunday Times' articles of yours, quite insightful. It's heartning you are continuing along the same vein.
We will do more, better and joyfully when we pay attention, when we are conscious

Felix Motau