Category Archives: Business Development

Innovation and the customer – don’t presume the outcome

Innovation and the customer

The customer defines what successful innovation is by its implementation and use. The issue is, they may not know what the solution or outcome looks like beforehand.

A problem with asking what the customer wants is that they may not know, or they have a preconceived solution in mind that may not be viable or effective, or it may be even undesirable or unsuitable. There is a problem of unlimited choice being a hindrance to decision-making. Be cautious of the “if money was no object…?” or “In a perfect world…?” questions as they can be paralysing due to the questions being unstructured and limitless. 

Freedom in creativity and innovation is best defined within a discipline. An example could be this: a skilled dancer can move freely, fluidly and with unbounded creativity because of years of disciplined training and structured practice. A skilled person will know what boundaries to push though and what rules can be challenged. If I tried the same free expression through dance I would probably break something, most likely myself, I certainly would not enjoy the experience and I can guarantee it would not be a pretty sight.

Determining customer needs without prejudging the result or outcome will better define what a solution will look like. The needs assessment has to be done with a great deal of care and skill, without an agenda or preferred outcome in mind. Do not lead the customer into giving you the answer you want to hear. 

If you apply the assessed needs with innovative processes then a solution that is beneficial to both the customer and the innovator is possible, but it may be entirely different to any preexisting solutions you or the customer may have started with.  

Paul S Allen

Barbed Wire

Nothing like good customer service.

There’s nothing like good customer service and this is nothing like good customer service.Paulusthebrit

You the customer are under suspicion. Your actions require utmost control and under no circumstances can you enter our business with that item. We consider all people who enter our business as criminals intent on stealing our stuff. We do not care about you or your own care or safety.

This is the message I was given by the owner of a business today after I raised a concern about a policy the store has and the manner in which it was enforced.

What was the offense? My wife had a small hand bag with her.

The policy of the store was that no-one was able to enter the store with a bag (of any sort). We had the option of leaving the bag with a complete stranger at the counter in an insecure area or not go into the store.

Our greeting was not a friendly smile or even a simple “Hello” it was just “Bag please!” no option, no explanation.

We left.

After calling the store to question the policy and manner which we were treated, the owner phoned me back to explain that under no circumstances was anyone allowed in the store with a bag of any kind and that Prime Minister John Key and even the Queen would be asked to leave their bags at the counter.

When explaining that my wife has a health condition and the bag contains important contents, it was explained that we could take contents out of the bag and carry them with us. I suggested that it would be difficult to shop or browse while carrying things in our hands he said that was our problem.

I can accept the importance of store security and issues around shop theft, but the tone and treatment of the staff member and the arrogant attitude of the owner has left us never wanting to visit that shop again. We had the intention of making purchases on todays visit but we will not be going back to that establishment.

I will not name the store as I do not wish to advertise or promote its existence in any way. If anyone ever asks me for a recommendation about these types of shops I will not mention them at all and if questioned directly will explain our dissatisfaction.

One question I have about this “leave bag at counter” policy. If something goes missing or is damaged in the bag whose liability is it? For example if I leave my camera bag at the counter and someone drops a heavy item on it will the store pay the cost to repair or replace damaged items? What say someone gets given the wrong bag and it goes missing, who is liable?

The experience today has left us feeling angry and disappointed especially after the owner said it was our loss for not doing business with him. Actually it is his loss, we were going to spend money today at his shop and didn’t.

We will not be going back to that store again.

Paul S Allen

Juggling too many chainsaws

I can juggle 2 balls in one hand just fine, 3 balls in both hands OK, any more than that it just gets messy.

In life it is important to know your limits, especially for those who have a tendency to say yes too often or take on too much and over commit.

All to often I find that I start to juggle OK then add another ball then another and every now and then a chainsaw comes along. Out of necessity you (I) will catch it once or twice but it will be inevitably dropped and cause damage in the process

The trick with juggling is to not try something without building up the skills required before hand and to know your limitations. Do not be tempted to go from juggling balls to juggling working chainsaws in one step.

“What can’t you do?” is just as an important question to ask as “what can you do?”

If you have taken on too much and you are trying to juggle beyond your skill level or ability you have to make changes. Get help, coaching and training and/or put those items you are juggling down and work out which ones are the important ones for you to continue.

You need to do this before you damage yourself or others.

Yes, stretch yourself, work hard at increasing your abilities, but do not burn yourself out in the process. When you are handed chainsaws to juggle you need to have confidence in your own ability to juggle them, and that confidence needs to be based in reality. Do not try to juggle them because you think you can you have to know you can.

So be careful juggling chainsaws.

Paul S Allen

I promise you this

Apparition in Chingford Park 1

I promise you this

Nothing is certain in this life except for death and taxes, according to the saying anyway.

There is one thing, however, I can guarantee without question or doubt. It is a certainty beyond all others and a promise I will keep even though I do not want to.

It isn’t riches, power, fame, comfort or security, it isn’t health, safety, salvation or peace.

It is a promise that will annoy and disappoint you, it will be frustrating for others and myself.

It will be something I can learn from and grow through but still it will happen again-and-again.

All I ask is that you will encourage me as I keep this promise, even though I will try to break it, and when I keep the promise, I hope you will understand that I am only human, nothing more and nothing less.

So forgive me…

My promise is simply this…

… I will make mistakes.

Paul S Allen

Caution

Significance

The sun rises
The sun sets
The same 24 hours every day; but somehow time appears to speed up as the years rush by.

I am  (we are) surrounded by that which is transient, with no intrinsic value. What significance is there apart from what I can impart to others.

For there to be longevity of vision or betterment of humanity there needs to be a giving of  oneself to the people who come after ourselves. A short-sighted  and me-only approach may feel nice  for  the individual but will ultimately lead to nothing.

Significance comes not in what you gain but by what you give.

Paul S Allen

Dunedin Sunrise - Photo  © Paul S Allen 2012

Dunedin Sunrise – Photo © Paul S Allen 2012

 

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