Excel by Focusing on the Fundamentals?


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It occurs to me that we, human beings, are curious creatures.

We pride ourselves in our rationality and yet are permeated through and through with ideology and superstition. We are convinced of our individuality whilst at the same time being terrified of sticking our heads above the crowd. We are capable of amazing feats yet find it hard to resist taking the short-cut.

Allow me to share the following story with you:

Nasrudin sometimes took people for trips on his boat. One day a professor hired him to ferry him across the wide river.

During the journey the professor, wanting to impress Nasrudin, talked on-about many topics: politics, the great books of literature… When Nasrudin didn’t respond the professor asked him if had anything to say.

“I didn’t go to school and I can’t read,” said Nasrudin.

“In that case, half your life has been wasted!” replied the professor condescendingly.

Nasrudin said nothing.

Soon a storm blew up and Nasrudin boat start filling up with water. Nasrudin leaned towards the professor who was looking rather pale.

“Can you swim?”

“No. I never learned to swim. It didn’t seem that important,” said the professor.

“In that case, schoolmaster, ALL of your life is lost, for we are sinking.”

It occurs to me that in the world of business we are so bewitched by ideologies (which are invisible to us), fanciful stories and the latest silver bullets. Being so bewitched we neglect the fundamentals.

What are the fundamentals of your business? It occurs to me that this is a good question to grapple with as an organisation. And to come to an agreement. Yes, it sounds simple and you would be surprised how rare it is to come across a management team that has grappled with this question and come to an shared agreement. It is even rarer to find a shared agreement that stands up to deep questioning.

When it comes to the fundamentals as viewed from the eyes of the customer, I tend to find myself in agreement with Patrick Barwise and Sean Meehan in their book Simply Better:

Customers don’t want bells and whistles and don’t care about trivial differences between brands. What they really want are quality products, reliable services, and fair value for money. Yet most companies consistently fail to meet these basic needs.

It occurs to me that Amazon does so well because the folks at Amazon are relentless on the fundamentals of internet retailing: site design, site performance, customer reviews, ease of buying, on-time delivery, quality products, valuable services (ebooks), ease of returns, value for money …

Finally, it occurs to me that the real value of Customer Experience lies in encouraging your organisation to get present to and pay attention to the fundamentals of your organisation as they show up for your customers.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Maz Iqbal
Experienced management consultant and customer strategist who has been grappling with 'customer-centric business' since early 1999.


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