Wear sunscreen

sunscreenI have an iPod with loads of 80s and 90s songs held within its memory and, through the magic of ‘shuffle’, they randomly make re-appearances in my world (or at least my ears).

There’s one song that I really like popping up when I’m ‘away with the fairies’ running on the hills (this is fertile ‘brain fart’ territory).

The song is ‘Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)’, released in 1999 by Baz Luhrmann. If you’ve never heard it before then I’d describe it as a man eloquently talking through a series of life lessons, where his spoken word ‘rap’ is matched to an agreeable background beat. Groovy.

It’s pretty corny stuff…but that’s because there’s some level of truism in every line!

Now, there’s one short verse that I often think about whilst at work. Here it is:

“Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.

Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.”

Ok, I had better explain:

Why work?

I see a rather good analogy of:

  • working somewhere really great; and
  • working somewhere really not!
  • …and then, because you now ‘get it’, your work travels will become full of meaning.

If you’ve only ever worked somewhere really great: then you may not realise that it is great and, even if you do, you may not understand what makes it this way.

If you’ve only ever worked somewhere really terrible: then you may think that this is just what work is and, even if you wish for better things, you will likely be stuck as to what makes your work place terrible (I’m talking root causes)…and therefore whether it is changeable…and how to do so.

If you have worked at both ends of the spectrum: then you will likely have had some pretty important ‘aha’ moments and, even if you haven’t had these (yet), you are probably curious to explore the seemingly vast gulf between organisations.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with working for a figurative ‘Northern California’ all your life….but travel is a great thing – not for the destination, but for the journey 🙂

…and, whilst it might be great, I presume that even Northern California isn’t perfect.

How about me?

I realise that everything is relative, but yep, I reckon that I’ve spent years at both ends of the spectrum and I can confirm that I didn’t realise what good looked like whilst I was there! Looking back, I can say that it wasn’t perfect, but man it was GOOD!

Put at its simplest: it was about the people…and it was soooo about the customer…and it really was!

I can also confirm that, whilst I am a natural skeptic (where this is, I believe, a positive word), it was only on leaving my (unacknowledged) Paradise that my journey of discovery truly crystallised…and accelerated.

I might not work in Paradise now but, hey, I’m on an interesting journey.

Direction of travel?

Now, you’ll notice that the song lyric doesn’t give explicit advice on whether the order of habitation matters. Here’s my thinking on this:

  • if you prefer a smooth ride then I hope lady luck books you a ticket from New York to Northern California;
  • if you are a thrill seeker, and like a bumpy ride, then you should hope for the journey in reverse….you’ll probably learn a lot more.

…and for those of you struggling whilst on your travels, remember Charles Swindoll’s view that “…life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

 

Oh yeah, and to conclude – here’s my favourite, favourite line from the song:

“The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”

That’s it – there’s nothing more to add to that.

 

Footnotes

Author of the song lyrics: One of the nice things about blogging is that, through checking things out before I publish, I find out a whole lot more in the process. I looked up the ‘Wear Sunscreen’ song and Wikipedia (and its source links) tells me that the lyrics come from an “essay written as a hypothetical commencement speech” by a columnist Mary Schmich in 1997. Baz Lurhmann then used it as the basis for the 1999 song.

Where you currently work: So there’s a small chance that your current boss happens to read this post, points it in your direction and then asks you whether you work in New York or Northern California.

If you honestly answer ‘New York’ and they respond badly to this…then they kinda prove the point. However, if they genuinely want to understand why this is so, then perhaps you’ve just moved a small step towards Northern California.

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Where’s the meat in your sandwich?!

sandwichI came across a LinkedIn ‘research’ report that had been shared on a social media platform the other day. It had a grand title:

The 2016 Workforce Purpose Index: ‘Purpose at work – the largest global study on the Role of Purpose in the Workforce.’

Mmmm, sounds interesting. And, wow, ‘largest global study’ – must be important – I’d better have a read…and so I did…and then I found myself doing a bit of frothing at the mouth. I do that when stuff winds me up…I’m okay, honest 🙂

Now I am absolutely NOT getting at the person who shared the ‘report’, or any persons liking or positively commenting on it. Just to clear up any potential confusion at the start: I totally agree that the premise of ‘purpose at work’ is to be ‘liked’….and in fact passionately argued for. An earlier post uses an Ackoff essay to explain why this so.

But here’s some other stuff that I thought as I read through the ‘report’:

Helpfulness?

The introductory pages deliver the usual ‘listen up people – purpose matters’ message. This is, for me, like the ‘Buy low, sell high’ advice – blindingly obvious…but not particularly useful.

Profit?

And so to the page on “Purpose brings profit”: Yes, I agree with this…but, at the risk of repeating my ‘blindingly obvious’ mantra, this shouldn’t really be surprising i.e. if you passionately understand and serve your customers with what they actually need (this is fundamentally different to ‘selling to them’), then you have a high chance of success. Simples.

What the report fails to tackle, let alone drive home, is that many organisations get their logic ‘in a twist’ i.e. their (subconscious?) thinking is that ‘If we craft, and then regularly, state a cool-sounding purpose, then we can focus on our real purpose of profit.’ This is NOT what ‘purpose brings profit’ means!

A focus on growth and profitability doesn’t unlock purpose – indeed it will likely do the exact opposite. This isn’t to say that you can’t grow and be profitable. Of course you can. It is to correctly state the cause-effect relationship between a fanatical focus on a meaningful purpose (cause) delivering sustainable and healthy growth and profitability (effect).

Again, I’ve written about the ‘what and why’ of this previously in a post titled ‘Oxygen isn’t what life is about’.

People?

To quote from the report:

Key Finding: Given the right role and environment, [people] are ready to tap into their purpose and reach a higher potential at work”.

Now, I absolutely agree with this statement but I get sick of, what I consider to be, the spectacularly obvious being dressed up as a ‘finding’. This is ‘McGregor 101’: How you treat me will determine a massive amount of how I behave.

And so to the next quote:

“this correlation of satisfaction at work and purpose orientation was consistent in virtually every country and industry studied.”

This is where I write “No sh1t Sherlock!” That would be because we are all humans – which is a nice segue to Dilbert, and the Theory of Evolution.

Capt obviousIt’s a bit like all those scientific research projects spending scarce grant money to confirm that ‘water quenches our thirst’ or ‘alcohol gets us drunk’ or [insert one from today’s supposed news].

The trouble, for me, with stating the obvious but missing out the important contextual piece is that organisations then run away shouting “oooh, quick, quick…we’ve got to find our purpose! Let’s gather round and play with some words.”

And they spectacularly miss the point.

Purpose driven?

So let’s get to the nub of my critique: The report implies that there are three different types of people*, these being those who are primarily:

  • Purpose-driven; or
  • Status-driven; or
  • Money-driven.

They then follow this line of reasoning with….have you guessed it?…the recommendation to search for and select purpose-oriented ‘talent’.  It even suggests adding the ‘what is your primary drive?’ dimension to an organisation’s talent selection criteria 😦

The hilarity of this is that they may recruit lots of (currently) purpose-driven people…and then kill it. It’s the same old talent message – don’t endlessly seek talent, recognise and tirelessly work to unleash the talent from within.

So, back to the ‘research report’: sure you can ask someone to respond to survey questions as to which category they currently associate themselves most with (i.e. purpose, status, money)…but where is the consideration as to WHY someone might answer as they did.

* are they ‘types’ of people….or are they outcomes that people have arrived at or been driven to?

Some examples:

  • how many of you started a new job with passion and purpose, but within 6 months – 1 year, had been beaten back to surviving on merely the money and seeking some status to get noticed?
  • how many of you started your ‘careers’ focused on getting on the ladder and earning enough money to gain a roof over your heads and have a family….and how many of you have reached a certain level of wealth and/or experience where your priorities have changed?1

To conclude:

Yep, purpose is important.

Yep, I can’t really disagree with the blindingly obvious littered throughout the ‘report’.

…but if the report were a sandwich, it is bland, limp and empty – where’s the important and insightful stuff that needed to be said?

In short, where’s the meat in the sandwich?!

Does this matter? Well, yes, it does. The problem with such reports is that they allow the top management of traditional (‘command and control’) organisations to gleefully wave them about, shouting “nothing to see here – we know all of this and, even better, we’ve got it totally covered!”

Total codswallop.  As I wrote in an earlier ‘Blackadder’ post, a report is only valuable if it covers what needs to be said, not what they want to hear.

The report spectacularly misses the huge point that:

“People’s behaviour is a product of their system. It is only by changing [the system] that we can expect a change in behaviour.” (John Seddon)

What sort of system environmental things am I talking about? If you read Deming’s 14 points for management you will get a good idea. At a high level, let’s compare two environments and then you tell me which would enable you to focus on your purpose and which would see you struggling to survive through status and money:

Traditional A better way!
Hierarchical (authority…superiority) ‘Social’ (responsibility, equality)
Fear/ blame Trust/ ‘safe to fail’
Rules and consequences Guidance and support
Growth and Profitability Customer, customer, customer
Budgets, financial measures, cost cutting ‘Purpose’ operational measures, variation
Implement ‘best practise’ on the people (plans) Problem solving by the people (experiments)
Cascaded personal (or team) targets Value stream capability measures
Judgement, through rating and ranking Coaching, through non-judgemental feedback
Carrot and stick compliance Intrinsically motivated
Incentives Profit sharing
Competitions, and hero (people) awards Collaboration, and achievement focus

 Whether a person can (will) be purpose-oriented is hugely down to the environment in which they work. Simples.

Footnotes

1. This is rather obvious: take your pick from ‘Herzberg’s Motivators & Hygiene factors’ or ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’.

2. I ‘get’ that LinkedIn are merely trying to drum up business by suggesting we all need to find ‘talent’ but….grrrrrr.

….because I wanted to!

nz mapSo something really important happened to me yesterday evening – I became a Kiwi!

“What’s so good about that?” you might ask…

The Back-story:

I was born and raised in the UK which (for the avoidance of doubt) I still love.

However, I have happily been a permanent resident of New Zealand for 8 awesome years. There was no pressure on me to go further and apply for citizenship. Indeed, to do so would require a bit of effort on my part and some money to pay the Ministry of Internal Affair’s administration costs.

The Citizenship Ceremony:

There were about 180 candidates for citizenship, representing over 30 different countries.

The ceremony kicked off with an excellent performance from a Kapa Haka1 group.

The Mayor of our city, ably assisted by a linguistically impressive2 MC, presided over the ceremony and did a brilliant job of welcoming us, making us feel at ease, running a tight ship for oaths/ affirmations, certificates, photos (and trees!3) and finally congratulating us.

The National Anthem was sung.

But, just before the National Anthem, we watched a short video….

The insight:

…and within that video was a welcome from the Hon. Peter Dunne, Minister of Internal Affairs.

He nicely put into words that, as New Zealand residents, we are already entitled:

  • to stay indefinitely, to work and to study;
  • to healthcare, education and social security, as citizens are; and
  • to vote

and that this is not the case for all countries around the world4.

…and as such, we’re not becoming citizens in exchange for such rights – it isn’t for personal gain (in a ‘do this to get that’ kinda way), it is because we want to!

Indeed, some people will be choosing to surrender citizenship5 from their country of birth.

Now, I hadn’t formalised it as such…but, yes, Mr Dunne had ‘hit the nail on the head’. There was no need to become a citizen, but we feel part of this community and want to belong to it.

Now, for those of you reading the above thinking “that’s very nice and all that…but you usually write about organisations – what’s gone wrong this time?”…here goes:

The analogy:

Yep, you can see where this is going: Many an organisation uses the ‘do this to get that’ logic on its people throughout its management system:

  • meet these targets to get this reward;
  • put yourself forward to win this competition;
  • act in this way to win this quarterly/ annual award
  • search out, and apply for external awards to gain hierarchical kudos
  • ….etc.

In fact, they do so as if this is all rather obvious, and the only way to go about running an organisation.

But all of these things are extrinsic. They aren’t because you want to, they are because you want the prize available for complying with their wishes. This reminds me of a very early post I wrote titled ‘Don’t feed the animals’ which sets out and explains the point.

The reverse logic is to provide the people with what they need to thrive (with no strings attached)…and they will blossom…and they will want to belong. This is all about the environment:

…which will create:

People will come to love such an organisation, will want to belong, and will want to give of their all. How many organisations can honestly claim that?!

For you skeptics out there, such a transformation is:

  • possible, desirable, worthwhile and (as a side effect) profitable; and yet
  • impossible without a fundamental change in thinking.

Where would you choose to work (or live)?

Post script:

I texted a very good friend just after the ceremony: “All Blacks supporter now!”

ABs vs LionsHis response was:“All Blacks over the Lions?”

Damn, I hadn’t thought about next year’s Test series. This might take a little bit of time and emotional baggage to work through!

Footnotes:

1. Kapa haka is the term for Māori performing arts and literally means to form a line (kapa) and dance (haka).

2. 30+ different countries results in amazingly different names to be read out!

3. Every family grouping is presented with a native ‘baby tree’, to plant at home. We’ve got a spot in our garden already sorted.

4. Where this is a particular bone of contention for Kiwis living in Australia.

5. Some countries forbid multiple citizenships, and therefore require you to renounce your citizenship if you want to change to another.

6. You may not think they are random…but if they don’t take proper account of variation, then they are.

Dilbert says…let’s automate everything!

Dilbert portraitI absolutely love ‘Dilbert’ – it seems to me that Scott Adams, the cartoonist, has seen into our very souls when it comes to our working lives.

You may also love the Dilbert cartoons but what you might not know is that Scott wrote a couple of (let’s call them) ‘essays’ as the introduction to his first Dilbert book1…I read them many years ago and they made me cry with laughter.

I’ve not thought about these for a long time, but they popped into my head recently when I was considering where the world is heading in respect of invention, and specifically automation.

I’d like to reproduce the core parts of one of his comedy essays here, for use in this post (I hope Scott doesn’t mind… this is, after all, a plug for his books 🙂 ). Here goes:

“Theory of Evolution (Summary)

First, there were some amoebas. Deviant amoebas adapted better to the environment, thus becoming monkeys. Then came Total Quality Management. I’m leaving some of the details out…

Anyway, it took many years to get to this lofty level of evolution. That leisurely pace of change was okay because there wasn’t much to do except sit around and hope you didn’t get eaten by wild pigs. Then somebody fell on a sharp stick and the spear was invented. That’s when the trouble started…

I wasn’t there, but I’m willing to bet that some people said the spear would never replace fingernails as the fighting tool of choice…’diversity’ was not celebrated back then, and I expect the ‘Say No to Spear’ people got the ‘point’ if you catch my drift.

The good thing about the spear is that almost everybody could understand it. It had basically one feature: the pointy end. Our brains were fully equipped for this level of complexity. And not just the brains of the intelligentsia either – the common man could find his way around a spear too. Life was good…almost nobody complained about how confusing the spears were….

Suddenly (in evolutionary terms) some deviant went and built the printing press. It was a slippery slope after that. Two blinks later and we’re switching batteries in our laptop computers while streaking through the sky in shiny metal objects in which soft drinks and peanuts are served.

I blame sex and paper for most of our current problems. Here’s my logic:

Only one person in a million is smart enough to invent a printing press. So when society consisted of only a few hundred apelike people living in caves, the odds of one of them being a genius were fairly low. But people kept having sex, and with every moron added to the population, the odds of a deviant smarty-pants slipping through the genetic net got higher and higher, When you’ve got several million people running around having sex all willy-nilly the odds are fairly good that some pregnant ape-mom is going to squat in a field someday and pinch out a printing-press-making deviant.

Once we had printing presses, we were pretty much doomed. Because then, every time a new smart deviant came up with a good idea, it would get written down and shared. Every good idea could be built upon. Civilisation exploded. Technology was born. The complexity of life increased geometrically. Everything got bigger and better. Except our brains.

All the technologies that surround us, all the management theories, all the economic models that predict and guide our behaviours, the science that helps us live to eighty – it’s all created by a tiny percentage of deviant smart people. The rest of us are treading water as fast as we can. The world is too complex for us. Evolution didn’t keep up.

Thanks to the printing press, the deviant smart people managed to capture their genius and communicate it without having to pass it on genetically. Evolution was short circuited. We got knowledge and technology before we got intelligence.

We’re a planet of nearly six billion ninnies living in a civilisation that was designed by a few thousand amazingly smart deviants.”

Oh, there’s so much in there to work with! But, first…

What about you and me?

…I believe that I am reasonably intelligent (don’t we all!) but I’m absolutely certain that I’m not one of the “deviant smarty-pants”. I use a fair bit of technology in my daily life but don’t really know how it works. Sure, I can read Wikipedia like the next ape and spout out that it’s all about 0’s and 1’s…but that doesn’t mean that I really ‘get it’.

Now, I don’t mean to be rude, but the vast majority of you reading this aren’t likely to be geniuses either…and if you are, then please consider our predicament and look after us 🙂

…and so, to automation:

With reference to Scott Adam’s evolution theory, I often feel like we have become a bunch of idiots within our world, and each fresh automation added to our environment likely makes this more so.

There appears to be a large push for the likes of robotics and artificial intelligence at the moment, with lots of super positive articles being written by ‘interested parties’.

I reckon that we would be wise to ponder the automation thing and to have a healthy regard to what it implies. This isn’t to be a luddite2 and try to hold back the tide of change. It is suggesting that we fully think through what it means, across a broad context, and not be easily persuaded by some futuristic promise of bliss (which we should constantly reflect is mainly coming from those selling it).

(By way of context: this post was triggered by a recent article in respect of a fatal accident involving Tesla’s semi-autonomous car. and a discussion with work colleagues)

The calculator as one of the simplest of examples:

Many years ago I trained to be a Maths teacher, along with a good mate called Dave.

We used to have a laugh whenever we asked one of our students how they had arrived at a particular answer and they would simply reply that “I worked it out with my calculator Sir”.

We did the usual “back in my day” lament about kids not knowing how to do simple arithmetic on a piece of paper and becoming reliant on a calculator instead.

Now, you might respond with “yeah, but why do they need to learn all that stuff if they’ve got a calculator!”…and, mainly, I’d see your point.

The problem comes when they accidentally miss-key into their wonder machine, get a result and blindly rely on it.

If you don’t understand the basics of what’s going on, then you can’t be expected to spot an error (often in our inputs or usage). How could you?

To the world of work:

To take the calculator example, and turn it into a generalisation: You can’t truly cope with a defect (or failure demand), let alone improve the system that created it, if you don’t understand what’s actually going on.

If we are going to automate things, then I’d suggest a few automation design principles should be used…such as:

  • it must be very obvious to the people utilising the automation as to what is actually happening (i.e. this is not hidden or over-complicated);
  • it must be possible, and easy, to take back control and experience the task for ourselves; and
  • taking back control (i.e. ‘switching to manual’) is encouraged…and even required on a regular basis.

This may add initially to any automation endeavour, but should pay itself back handsomely when in operation, by our understanding of (and retention of control over) what is actually taking place.

(I note Toyota’s thinking in respect of automation: i.e. automation may prove useful, but it isn’t the objective and could be a hindrance.)

Humanity, and customers:

Going back to that ape thing: Given that we are basically a bunch of “ninnies”, we should design accordingly.

My criticism of many (most?) automation efforts is that they are aimed at efficiency.

Our true purpose should be effectiveness, and that requires us to fully appreciate our customers, and their* (wildly varying) ape-like humanity.

(* again, I don’t exclude myself from this)

Every attempt at efficiency, say through pushing the likes of contact centre IVRs, self-service portals and ‘chat-bots’3 onto customers, is hugely wasteful and counter-productive if they aren’t effective (which means valuable for the customer, for their needs)

We should be pulling innovative ideas on the basis of clear value for our customers.

So, I suggest that the first automation design principle should be that the customer (a human being) would want it!

 …and, as a bonus for reading this far:

I share the following thought-provoking cartoon4 :

auto cars

Footnotes

1. Scott Adam’s book is called ‘The Dilbert Principle’ and was first published in 1996.

2. Being a Luddite: A clarification for all you early adopter ‘technologists’ out there. This post isn’t an attempt at denial. It is (hopefully) to provide some healthy self-reflection when putting forward the next hugely optimistic article on what’s coming to take over our worlds :);

3. Chat bots: I found this recent BBC article somewhat illuminating, particularly IKEA and ‘Anna’. “In the beginning, we tried to impersonate a person, and we found that there was no reason to do that”. This speaks volumes to me. By causing a confusion to the human as to ‘what’ they are interacting with, we create an unnecessary and yet fundamental problem.

4. Credit: This cartoon was found by a colleague. Thanks 🙂

 

 

There’s no such thing as…

internal customerThis post is a bit ‘tongue in cheek’ (so if you don’t agree 100% then please don’t take it too much to heart 🙂 ) but it expresses what I’ve thought for years now.

A business fashion started back in, oooh, probably the 1980s – talking about ‘internal customers’ within organisations. The idea being that you are the customer for the person upstream from you – they are producing for you – and, in turn, the person downstream from you is your customer…and on and on…in a long chain from the start to the finish of a value stream. Lots of lovely internal customers.

But here’s the thing: They aren’t your customer – they are a part of (i.e. colleagues within) your system!

Yes, yes, I know that you are reliant on them and then the next lot are in turn reliant on you…but that’s just because of the design of the (current) method.

And, yes, yes, I know that it would be jolly nice if you all worked together in really efficient and effective ways – but that doesn’t make for a customer relationship. Further, it can be harmful to think in this way.

What is a customer?

I’ll draw on a set of related quotes to assist me here:

“The purpose of a business is to create a customer.”1 (Peter Drucker)

“It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.” (Henry Ford)

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman down simply by spending his money somewhere else.” (Sam Walton)

The point being that a customer is, by definition, external to the system. Everyone and everything within the system is (or should be) there for them.

Without the (true) customer, there is nothing.

Why does this ‘internal customer’ label bother me so?

Such ‘internal customer’ logic causes us to think that we must do what they ask, and not question them too much, along the lines of the ‘customer is always right’ and ‘give the customer what they want’ mantras.

It presents a suboptimal ‘them’ and ‘us’ situation rather than a collaborative horizontal (across the system) ‘we’.

Once you think in terms of internal customers, it’s only a short and painful step towards the dreaded ‘Service Level Agreement’ (SLA) game show. Grrrr.

A massive risk within the ‘internal customer’ logic is the creation of a static system, one in which the method (and targets) becomes defined in quick drying cement.

  • If I think of you as my customer, then there’s unlikely to be much challenge from me as to whether your role should change, or even exist…and you sure as hell aren’t going to appreciate any such line of reasoning from me – who the hell am I to suggest this – you are my customer, I am merely your supplier!
  • Further, as my customer, you may consider that you know best, that your wish should be my command and that I should be grateful to be of service to you. Indeed, you may even score me on how well I treat you. Ouch!

How many of you reading this post have been asked to do something by your ‘internal customer’ and thought that what they were asking for was nuts…and how many of you didn’t get the chance to meaningfully discuss this with them, and had to carry it out anyway?

Even worse, how many of you have switched off from even thinking about whether your internal customer’s request makes sense and have merely become ‘order takers’.

What a load of nonsense. Let’s just throw the ‘internal customer‘ language in the bin.

“But what about treating all our colleagues with respect?!”

I can almost hear some HR departments chiding my thinking as being disrespectful to my fellow employees. No, it’s not!

In fact, it’s the opposite. I think it’s disingenuous for me to pretend that my work colleagues are my customer. They are far far more than that – we are reliant on each other, to keep our jobs, to grow ourselves, to stimulate each other, to want to come to work…to spend our working lives delivering something meaningful to this world. This is soooo much more than being merely thought of as ‘internal customers’.

As colleagues, we need a robust relationship, not one of diffidence and servitude. We need to respectfully challenge each other, work hard to listen to and understand each other’s worldviews…and become better, closer and wiser for this.

We are not ‘internal customers’, we are colleagues.

Addendum:

I always pick a trusted colleague (from an ever widening group of ‘pioneers’) to have a read of my posts before I press publish. I was particularly nervous about this one as I felt that it could just be me ranting about an ‘issue I have with the world’ (again 🙂 ).

…but I got a great response back, with the following gem (thanks A):

“Are the All Blacks ‘customers’ to one another, or are they a team with a shared purpose? By using the term ‘customer’ where it doesn’t belong… it distracts us from understanding who our real customers are.”

This made me giggle. Turning to the wonderful game of rugby, I had visions of the ‘backs’ telling the ‘forwards’ that they are their customers…I don’t think that this would go down too well.

rugby positionsHow about the following, even dafter rugby situations:

  • the jumper in the line-out considering themselves as the customer of the hooker throwing the ball in;
  • the winger considering themselves as the customer of the no. 10, who is kicking the ball through for them to get on the end of; or, at its simplest
  • the potential receiver considering themselves as the customer of the possible passer of the ball.

What a load of guff! They’re a team that have to work together, as equals; that have to understand, and swiftly react, to what’s around them; that have to make the selfless pass or tackle; and that have to pick each other up and genuinely offer words of support when perhaps it doesn’t go quite as desired.

They are not ‘internal customers’, they are team mates.

And so, to complete the title of this post: There’s no such thing as ‘internal customers’

Footnote:

1. I’m not a massive fan of this particular Peter Drucker quote, but it fits for this post.

Why so? Unfortunately, businesses have become far too adept at creating customers and, as a result, we have rampant consumerism.

I reflect on Professor Tim Jackson (author of ‘Prosperity without Growth’) clearly calling out THE problem for humanity, and what we* might do about it (* requiring brilliant political leadership).

His take-away quote “The story about us – people being persuaded to spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need to create impressions that won’t last on people we don’t care about.” Prof. Tim Jackson TED talk.