I recently found myself trying to explain a very simple (or so I thought) concept to my six-year-old daughter. Whether at school or with friends, she had picked up on the notion of a glass being “half-full” or “half-empty.”
I offhandedly remarked that it’s a matter of perspective, and people often look at the contents in the way that they want to see it.
“But it’s the same,” she said.
I told her she was right, kind of. Mostly. No wonder she goes to Mom with this stuff.
“Well, you know what?” she declared. “I’m just getting a better glass.”
As usual with these in-depth daughter interrogations, I walked away reexamining my own perspective, with how it ties into life, work, all of it. And maybe that little stinker was right; maybe it’s just the wrong glass.
Who Are You Catering to?
When talking with my daughter, I try – not always successfully – to approach her at her level. With our businesses or organizations, who are we catering to? Serving up a new carbonated concoction at a fine-wine tasting may not go over so well. Meet your customers – be they consumers, distributors, or retailers – at their level of expectation. This means being able to deliver old standbys and flavors of the month.
Remember New Coke? For a time, Coca-Cola overlooked what their consumer base really wanted and paid a price. People wanted their good ol’ Coke. But that failure doesn’t stop Cola-Cola from testing new products that will succeed. Clearly, there is a market for both old and new. Unless we’re talking about Crystal Pepsi.
Gleaning information from your own markets means checking the pulse, reading the trades, paying attention to competitors and similar verticals. But it should also come from internal reports. Do you track your purchases, work orders, sales, and returns? If not, you’re missing out on crucial data on your own customer base.
My youngest, the nearly two year-old toddler tank, loves to drink water. When thirst hits, he runs to the sink or fridge and hollers “Dwink! Dwink!” until a parental unit fulfills his every toddler tank need. He’s still learning timing on open-mouthed cups, as he often likes to throw back his beverage in a manner that resembles a waterfall more than a steady stream. As you guessed, a dwink request is often accompanied by a rag and maybe a change of clothes. He still benefits from a different glass, the old-time sippy cup. It can provide his drink, but also causes a bottleneck when appropriate.
Bottlenecks in business typically draw a negative connotation, for good reason, but again, consider your “glass.” Are your bottlenecks preventing work orders? Do overly conservative project predictions leave you idle? Your workflow should constantly seek balance between supply and demand.
How do you craft a proper bottleneck? For starters, all of your goods, assets, materials, and workers should be accessible. Do your orders reflect current inventory or stock? Are your price management lists accurate and offer price break suggestions? Can your workers immediately access this information and do they have protocol to follow? All of these features can be found in advanced inventory software, providing all the tools for crafting a proper “glass” to match your business refreshments.
Let’s stop worrying about half this or that, and find the appropriate glass. It may be big and tall, or small and ornate. Open-mouthed or sippy cup. Fit your business to the right glass and then drink to your heart’s content.