Archive for October, 2013

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Your focus for today: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
You hear this expression all the time. It means that you shouldn’t busy yourself with minor things that don’t help you get where you want to go. In one of my recent tweets, I asked whether you had ever seen successful people quarrel over trifles. As a rule, this doesn’t happen, and with good reason: If you would like to be really successful, you can’t be sidetracked by small, unimportant things. You need to deal with them as quickly as possible or ignore them –and not argue about them.

So, focus on the important things. Think big. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

“It’s Not My Fault, And Here’s Why I’m Right!” – Episode 3

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

This topic is growing in popularity on my German blog, so I’ll continue with it and present it here as well. After Episode 1 (telephone producers) and Episode 2 (television manufacturers), now this . . .

Episode 3: Teleconference service-providers

Warning: long post, yet insightful nonetheless.

My monthly German teleconferences this year have meanwhile have acquired some 250 registered subscribers who can tune into my teleconferences live. So, we need a reliable teleconferencing provider.

Our provider, whom we’ve used for many years, has shone recently only in its underperformance. The zenith: “No connection for this number.” Our virtual conference-room number was not available. I figured out for myself how to get in only by a circuitous route, and there were only two participants in the teleconference, including myself. An absurdity, and not the first time it’s happened.

That evening, I pointed out the poor performance directly to the provider. The company made no apology, but let me know that we could either be credited with the monthly fee (useless, since we can cancel at the end of any month), or we can terminate the service (equally useless for the same reason) and be reimbursed the monthly fee. Not a word of apology. Too bad.

Actually, the incident was settled, as fas as I was concerned; I didn’t want to switch providers because of the complexity involved. But then the calamity played out yesterday in dialog with the company’s CEO, who affirmed and added to what I’ve just related:

  • Provider: “As it happened, we had some weird issues Monday . . . Somehow our telephone numbers . . . couldn’t be connected, we don’t know . . . we’re looking into it. . . . [We’re] trying . . . in every way possible. Unfortunately, we need . . . more-detailed error reports from our customers.” (What he’s really saying: We’re doing everything we can, but our product isn’t quite ready yet, and we need your help testing it.”)
  • Me: “. . . is it too much for your customers to expect and receive products that are ready for prime time, that don’t turn the customer into a guinea pig?”
  • Provider: “. . . many thanks for the guinea-pig observation. Unfortunately, it’s a complete misrepresentation, and I take it personally, . . .further clarification makes no sense and only upsets me.” (What he’s really saying: “In reality, this is not at all about you, Mr. Customer, but about me and my ego.”)

All of that transpired through exchange of emails.

  • I tried to reach the service provider by telephone, because you really shouldn’t conduct such a dialog by email.
  • “You have called outside business hours.” (An 0900(!) number. It was shortly after 5:00 p.m.)
  • I informed the CEO by email that I would really like to speak with him, and gave him my phone number.
  • To no avail. An hour later and in writing, I canceled the contract as of March 31 and waived the refund that had been offered.

By rights, the story could have ended here, but far from it.

I received prompt confirmation of the cancellation, not as of the end of the month, but as of the end of that very day. By then, it was almost 7:30. The good news is that I had another provider in my hip pocket and informed all the teleconference participants of the new dial-up procedure. I wrote to the CEO that Mandat would have preferred to have canceled as of March 31, and not March 20, but that this would work for us.

I was done with the matter.

  • But not the CEO. This morning shortly after 7:30, by email: “. . . .our subscriptions are always for 30 days, and not from the first day of the month to the last. So, it’s not a matter or whether it works for you, but whether it’s in our system.” (Translation: It’s not my fault; I’m even in the right. And you, Mr. Customer, don’t count; that’s how our system works.”
  • For me, the case was closed, and I didn’t respond.
  • For the CEO, not so much. By email a few minutes later: “. . . in any case, you can see from your statement of February 22, 2013 that the room agreement ends on  March 3, 2012(sic). You canceled yesterday, so the contract was closed in our system. All very customer-friendly!” (Translation: “It’s not my fault; I’m even in the right. And you, Mr. Customer, not only do you not count; you are stupid besides.”

I forbade the CEO to contact me further by email. Anyway, I had enough for a new blog entry.

What would have helped?

  1. A word of regret, of sympathy.
  2. Accessibility.
  3. Use of the telephone instead of email.
  4. Make an effort to understand the customer.

Right from the start yesterday, the company lost us a customer, despite the pain of switching providers. Will they get over it? Yes, but only as long as such conduct remains an isolated instance – which I doubt.

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

More of the Same?

Monday, October 28th, 2013

The growth fallacy

When it comes to growth, one of the greatest misconceptions is to assume that growth means “more of the same.” The numerous critics of growth, who – for whatever reason – claim that you should “take a break from growth” every so often, or who yearn for a “moratorium on growth” usually proceed from the same incorrect assumptions as those who believe that growth has limits.

Growth is indispensable

Growth is the elixir of evolution. Growth is the prerequisite for meaningful economic activity, for prosperity, and for the standard of living that we citizens of industrialized nations enjoy. Taking a break from growth is the same as taking a break from breathing: Do so long enough, and it will kill you.

Growth and innovation

We must recognize that meaningful growth arises only from a foundation of innovation. (Virtually) no one needs that fourth television, but the switch from the cathode ray tube to the flat-screen has triggered growth. (Virtually) no one needs that third mobile phone, but the (r)evolution of the Siemens S1 or the Motorola DynaTAC 8000, along with the advent of the GSM standard for cellular networks at the beginning of the 1990s, caused an enormous burst of growth – not only for producers of mobile phones, today called “smartphones,” but for the entire economy. Just consider the differences in productivity and how we work.

A film, not a snapshot

Growth has much to do with ideas, creativity, and talent. Also with discipline, perseverance, and conviction. Anyone who wants to make sure that his company grows must recognize that growth is not a single venture, but a process consisting of serial ventures, one after another, over and over again. Growth is not a snapshot; it’s a film. We created a whole teleconference series in 2011 around this topic (Sorry, German only).

The mission of this blog

This is a blog that argues for intelligent, profitable growth. Therefore, in this blog we will approach the topic of growth from the point of view a) that growth is urgently needed and b) that growth does not mean “more of the same.” We will advocate for growth here just as vehemently as we do in our consulting business, and we will never tire of criticizing those who do things that, in our view, are incompatible with growth.

Along the way, we will perhaps, occasionally, even become political, although not aligned with any particular party. One thing is certain, you won’t find us running with the crowd. That simply would not sit well with us . . .

Have fun with my new blog “Growth Drivers,” the platform for profitable growth. I look forward to your comments and an engaging discussion.

Best, Guido Quelle


© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.