Look Both Ways.
The encapsulation of Hugh's ideas in an Edelman talk perturbed me. Not because I disagree with a single word of it, but because his highlighting of the post-efficiency world got me thinking about how businesses don't look both ways. Specifically, in matters of efficiency they only look inwards and in matters of promotion they look outwards. They have to stop doing that.
Internal efficiency that cuts costs, saves time and feeds the bottom line is the focus of most businesses. But it's external efficiencies (those experienced by their users) that make the real difference.
That efficiency can be the classical efficiency of stock availability, choice and quality, but it is also something visceral in terms of the way the user feels about your business as a result of their interaction with you.
We may be in a post-efficiency world when it comes to internal issues but we all know that we are far from that in terms of how efficient transactions feel to us users. Moreover, internal efficiencies such as outsourcing often militate against that.
Promotion that interrupts, entices and perhaps informs the potential user is the focus of most businesses. But it's internal promotion that engenders the attitudes that will make the real difference.
It is this internal promotion that aligns a business's workers and suppliers with that business's ultimate goal. Everyone has to know and understand the strategy of a business if they are to feel part of something and perform their task in the way that best fits with that strategy.
They don't need vacuous team-building exercises, they need to be trusted with information and insight and thereafter be allowed to use their initiative. How can those people deliver user satisfaction if they don't know how their business define those users and that satisfaction?
If we're in a post-efficiency world, we are also to some extent in a cluttered post-promotion world. Inward-focussed efficiency drives and outward-focussed promotion are increasingly unlikely to make a big difference. Hugh rightly suggests that
The growth will come, I believe, not by yet more increased efficiencies, but by humanification.
and I suggest that humanification requires businesses to look both ways. Inwardly to humanise their interaction with their staff and suppliers and outwardly to humanise their interaction with their users.