Whatever Happened to “Old Ed”?
There is hardly anything that makes the man on the street feel more helpless than a trusted institution’s fraudulent or negligent behavior. We’ve moved from “Old Ed” down at the general store who had everything the family needed, to Enron, Toshiba, Volkswagen, Toyota, FIFA and now, that American icon of “The Old West” honesty, Wells Fargo. When the price for life saving medication increases overnight by 5,000%, we can safely say, “All is not well in Kansas.”
Temptation Lies Deep Within
There is obviously no magic anti-corruption pill to fend off temptation. However, looking beyond the hype, hysteria and hypocrisy there is a common thread. The need to increase profits. Nothing new here. We could debate the profit question until the cows come home, but this is not the real problem. Profits, like eating, drinking and entertainment, aren’t all that bad. No profits mean no company which means no work. Until we come up with a better way of maintaining our livelihoods, we’ll have to put up with this reality. I see the problem buried deep within the profit making process. As a matter of fact, at the very beginning – the point of sales.
Evolution – Not Always Good
When I was a kid, all a sales person needed to do was give the illusion of a product’s popularity and everyone was on board. In Europe there was a slightly different approach. Buying a certain product was logically the best option. To say no, only served to prove one’s ignorance. As the popularity of credit cards grew, everyone needed to buy stuff because it was cheep, fun and affordable. Then the “create a need and they will come” game hit the fan. Now, our sales people find themselves in a world where there are so many great products, it’s hard to know if one should give up and join the competition. I predict as we move deeper into a post scarcity world, corruption at the point of sales will become an even greater problem. If reaching quotas means paying the rent the outcome is predictable.
The Agile Renaissance
It’s no surprise Agile values offer a renaissance of sorts for our battered salesforce. Basically people began selling stuff, because someone needed something. This problem still exists and will always exist. The trick is discovering what people need. The best way to do this, is simply ask. Sorry no revolution here, just returning to a simple logical approach.
How may we help?
Generally, the person with the most customer face time is the salesperson. In stead of compensation based on sales, how about paying for every new customer need discovered? I’m not talking about exposing customers to long drawn-out questionnaires. I recommend really getting into the customer’s head. Know his life, know his business know is values. The deeper you go the more there is to discover. Drop the whole line, “I have this great product, you can’t live without.” Move toward, “How can our company make your life and work easier?” Turn your sales channels into innovation channels and compensate accordingly. Increase your innovation backlog, and profits will follow. Unsurprisingly you’ll also discover corruption will ease up considerably.
- Individuals and their interactions.
- Delivering working software (products that help people).
- Customer collaboration.
- Responding to change.
- Agile Principles and Values, by Jeff Sutherland
- Comprehensive Guide to the Agile Manifesto
- Fortune Magazine – The 5 Biggest Corporate Scandals of 2015