Monthly Archives: February 2011

That low hanging fruit might be toxic!

In my last employment, we were subjected to a heavy top down change programme. Part of the mantra was to “go for the low hanging fruit” – that is get some quick wins under your belt. Whilst this can be useful in getting some momentum going, it can also lead you to putting effort into what is easy rather than what is really needed.

That low hanging fruit can be toxic because it diverts attention and others may see it simply as a ploy. You ought to be focusing your effort on the real needs and demonstrating a willingness to make real change work.

An example!

My local council has upgraded two sections of footpath near one of the busiest junctions in the town in the last year or so. Both sections were perfectly adequate but perhaps slightly narrow and were upgraded as parts of other schemes. However, there is another section not 50m from the first upgrade where there is no footpath at all on a blind bend. This means that pedestrians have to either step into the roadway or cross the  main road twice in a dangerous location.

So money has been spent upgrading the path where it could have been left unchanged and none spent where it could have made a real difference to safety and peace of mind.

Do you ever do this with your change processes?

Are you focusing on the real need or doing what is easy?

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Shouldn’t loyalty work both ways?

It’s coming up to the end of the tax year in UK so banks and other financial institutions are encouraging their customers to take advantage of products with tax breaks.

I got a letter from the Building Society  have been a customer of for approaching 40 years suggesting that I use my ISA [tax-free saving scheme] allowances before the end of the tax year. They highlighted the returns that I am getting on my scheme and enclosed a brochure with details of their current schemes. I was shocked to find that the rate of interest for new customers was almost 6 times that I was getting – so much for loyalty.

Obviously I can transfer but it needs me to take action – surely a customer focused organisation would ensure that their most loyal customers always get the best possible deal. I know I do that for my customers.

It seems to be becoming more prevalent to treat loyal customers badly – the best customers get the worst deal.

I’ve noticed similar issues with:

  • Utilities
  • Communications providers
  • Insurance companies
  • Mobile phone companies

This flies in the face of the advice I give my customers on developing their businesses – focus on the 3Rs:

  1. Repeat Business
  2. Referrals
  3. References

I strongly recommend that you treat your most loyal customers well – especially in the good times: if you want them around in the tough times!

What do you think?

Back to front reasoning?

As those of you in the UK will be aware, there is quite a furore at the moment about the likelihood of local public libraries being closed down in response to the Government’s spending cuts. I was intrigued by a story I heard on the radio last week [the gist is can be found on the BBC] because it  demonstrates something which I find very irritating – confusing correlation with causation!

The story suggests that those who use public libraries are likely to be more literate than the average – stating that public libraries are an important contributor to developing literacy. I have no problem with the concept but does the evidence presented actually support the assertion. Surely, it is equally likely that the causal link is the other way round – those who are more literate are more likely to use libraries?

In this case, I think that the assertion has merit but there is a risk that such sloppy thinking could undermine the argument. Connections of this type are put forward with no justification for the proposed causal link. This can get in the way of understanding the real issues.

It could be that:

  • No causal link exists
  • The reverse of the proposed link is true
  • Both items are dependent on some unidentified issue [e.g. population / demographics]

It’s important to bear this in mind when building your case.

Another BBC resource “More or Less” is very good at debunking these spurious claims and encourages the effective use of data and the derived statistics. It’s off air at the moment but the podcasts are  well worth a listen