The Services Dilemma

Watching the live stand-up show of Frankie Boyle in London the other night was therapeutic in the sense that you allowed yourself to laugh at things that ordinarily society would not permit you to.  One (perhaps the only) clean story he told related to cultural differences in reactions to change and being taught.  I realised it neatly shed light on issues I’ve seen many a time in sales teams when attempts are made to spread best-practice. The wisdom follows thus:

“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.  Give him a fishing rod and he’ll break it up for firewood.  Or swap it for a fish.”

It struck me immediately how beautiful a riposte this is for anyone that questions the amount of post-sale services you ask for.  Whichever sort of hand-holding you recommend (training, implementation, maintenance) the error in thinking a customer exhibits is that they’ll be able to be shown just the once, and all will be fine.  Teach them how to use their rod, and they’ll happily feed themselves each day.

Yet this runs contrary to practically every ‘system’ I’ve ever seen delivered.  Why is it that so often resentment builds over the issue of “days” required to make the project happen?  I have a hunch that, without resorting to the riotous delivery of a professional comedian, you can nudge the requisite extra day or two onto the contract by recounting the aforementioned wisdom.  And you’ll be thanked for it later.

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