R.J. Stasieczko

Toys R Us, a victim of Memory Management

“Painting your vision of the future requires the ability to paint over your memories with the paint of your imagination.”

I am sure many have decided, Toys R Us is just another example of outdated marketing strategies. Most have read much about how they refused to innovate. Well, Here’s my thinking. Toys R Us thought they were innovating. They based their marketing and their customer’s experiences on what they believed to be true instead of what the customer knew was true.

The number of organizations or industries who attempt to innovate from their memories instead of their imagination continues rising. Toys R Us is just one example of the refusal to comprehend how their once valuable value proposition has diminished in value. Just because yesterday’s parents used to fill up the minivan and travel to the toy store where their children had a ball running around in the madness of toy shopping. Doesn’t mean their kids when parents or their grand-kids will value the same experience.

“Innovation is not a practice of memory management it’s a practice of Imagination management.”

Things change, and companies don’t. Customer Experience has become a slogan for marketing departments not a reality for customers. When the means to any deliverable changes or is modified by an innovator. Listen to the noise from the legacy way hear their reasoning why the innovator will fail, or more importantly listen to the explanations why they believe the innovator won. You will soon discover those disrupted will describe their memories of why their customer experience is better, and the winning innovator only won because they were the cheapest. Reality check! I think there is a delusional leadership problem when organizations believe being less expensive is a fault or somehow doesn't qualify as a customer experience. Especially for commodity products or commodity services.

Toys R Us honestly believed that the experience their customer had in their stores was more valuable they the new experience of saving time and money buying toys some other way. Toys R Us tried innovating from the directions of their memories. Trying to fit what they wanted into what they insisted their customer wanted. The problem they didn't listen to the customer, and more importantly, they didn't take their lost customer’s advice. The toy buyer today decided that buying from home at lower prices is the better experience.

So, now the Ex- Toys R Us leaders and the Ex-RadioShack leaders drink coffee at Starbucks and brag how their customer experiences were so, much better than well, let's just say it “ better than Amazons.” The problem is their ex-customers didn’t think so causing the ex-customers to outnumber their once temporary current customers. During market disruptions and shifts, companies need to lead from their boardrooms not delegate to their marketing departments in an attempt to temporarily sell outdated value propositions. The one thing every leader knows although not every leader prepares for is this.

“Customers buy outcomes; the means to their achievement always changes.” 

Many industries are or will become victims of disruptive innovations if they continue attempting their responses based on memories. Don’t fall victim to the belief that your outdated value proposition still has the same value. Don’t fall victim to the thinking you are the better Customer Experience because you say so. Listen to your lost customer more than your current customer and imagine what your deliverable looks like without you delivering it.

Once the mind is open to different possibilities, your imagination and creativity will vision new possibilities which were unimaginable to your memories.”  

Ray Stasieczko

BEI Services Business Development Mgr. 2017 ENX Difference Maker

The Lifeguard on Stubborn Pond

Recently I heard someone say, they were there to save an industry! It was at that second; I realized why some leaders in transitioning industries, are much too obligated to yesterday. For some it's not about saving an industry, it's about saving a deliverable or a process which yesterday’s benefactors have become less appreciative of today. Caution!

“During disruptive times self-preservationist may disguise themselves as lifeguards.”     

So, here’s my thinking. It’s not about saving. Just the word itself screams bring me back to life and make what I do last forever. Well, sometimes things must die to facilitate the growth of what will be new. In my mind, it’s not about saving industries being disrupted. It’s about re-inventing them.

There are too many wishful thinkers, unfortunately wishing for the wrong thing. In all businesses the evolution of products, people, and circumstances cause a constant modification process. Let’s stop thinking about how what we do must be somehow saved from extinction allowing us to do it forever. Instead, let’s think about how what we do must modify to remain relevant.

 “If you have to change you waited too long and should have modified along the way.”

Today the world moves so fast that yesterday is history and the future is closer than ever to today. Both agility and speed are needed to survive. In the past, the lease was longer on the vehicles customers used to get the outcome they desired. Remember; “Customers buy outcomes the means to their achievement always changes.” Meaning you must constantly be modifying.

Today progressive organizations are re-inventing themselves and winning against their peers who decided to focus on saving yesterday so they might live tomorrow. During innovation stop thinking about circumventing evolutionary changes or, saving something; stop thinking about how customers benefited by you in the past. Instead, listen to both their voices and their actions telling you what they want from the future.

Customers are not obligated to remain in the past to keep you company. One’s stubbornness’s to the way things were will not survive their customer’s quest for the freshness of a new future. Customers today have more and more options. Stop rejoicing about yesterday while your customers are being invited to the future by new competitors some born there or your old peers who moved there.

Re-invention is the reality of our ever-innovating world. So, stop trying to save an old value proposition and instead re-invent a new one.

In Closing: Beware of the lifeguards on the Pond called, Stubborn these lifeguards are there to save themselves by keeping you from swimming to the future.

 “A company becomes obsolete when they focus on bringing the past to the future, instead of bringing the future to the present.”

R. J. Stasieczko     

Truth or Consequences, In business it’s not a Game

Those as old as I am will remember Bob Barker’s first game show, Truth or Consequences. This article is not about Bob or his game show. However, the title of that famous show is a catalyst to the message.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with a business consultant or business coach as he called himself. This consultant worked in a different industry than the industry I call home. It’s always interesting to explore the thoughts of others too many become static as they live in the atmosphere of sameness. The conversation was intriguing and disturbing. This consultant believed that the truth was not his deliverable he believed that whatever his client wanted to hear he would deliver as truth, and he hoped his client would pay the consequences after he cashed their check.

Either outside my industry or inside I find the weakness of experts, in telling the truth, deplorable to say the least.

Today the industry I call home, and many others must modify as their deliverables become less important to their customers desired outcomes or the fact that some desired outcomes are quickly becoming irrelevant in today’s innovative world. As things modify causing pain to the way it was. It’s a natural reaction to avoid or dismiss thoughts of impending doom. Many will seek the comfort of those they agree with hoping sameness will somehow circumvent the demands of newness, and some will seek help to improve. They will seek the experts in hopes that the investment will allow them to continue winning. Those who hire consultants are looking for a coach to teach and train them to overcome the struggles or obstacles which impede their growth. They're looking for someone to help guide and coach them through the required tough decisions and needed actions.

I remember as a child in school who attempted to participate in basketball. As I dribbled the ball regardless how bad. Those third-grade cheerleaders made me feel great as they cheered at my obvious incoordination or lack of any skills to the game. Well, the coach he wasn’t about to cheer he thought a discussion of why I should practice harder, and how improvement will only come through the application of my willingness to improve. The coach told me what I needed to hear not what I wanted to hear.

It may have taken a few years after the third grade for me to learn that no one should ever pay for cheerleaders they are free. However, coaching comes at a cost. The pain of improvement will always conflict with the temporary comfort in ignoring the truth. Coaches don’t cheer you on to make you feel good when they know you're not trying, Coaches, don’t tolerate one’s lack of fortitude in improving. Coaches don’t change statistics, so your deficiencies look better, coaches will fire those who won’t listen. Coaches want their clients to win, and when the client doesn’t have the desire, and the coach can’t motivate their desire the good coach will always tell them the truth; the good coach will say “this game, is not for you.”

Insecure consultants attract insecure clients. They will sell their clients smiles and take from them the opportunity to truly improve. The consequences caused by these smiling jackasses can be devastating. Instead of helping you clear out the debris on an old path, or lead you in forging a new path. The insecure consultants at the first sign of your unwillingness to do what’s needed they back off and allow you to go on a path of your choice one they know you shouldn't travel. But won't jeopardize their payday by telling you something they’ve determined is too painful for you to hear.

“The pasture of least resistance is where the insecure graze together; this pasture is adjacent to the field of opportunity.”      

So next time you meet with or hire a consultant, remember this. If you are seeking the truth in how to improve look for those who challenge you more than agree with you, look for those who tell you what you need to hear not what they think you want to hear.  “The pain of the tough decision needed for improvement is only appreciated by those willing to improve.”  

The consequences of prolonged stagnation will cripple a company. So, make sure the truth you’re getting is the truth you need not a distorted story of the facts disguised as truth to make you feel good.   

Remember the truth is always better than the consequences of denying it.

R.J. Stasieczko   

My Friends in and outside the Imaging Channel, Let’s Congratulate BEI Services on their 25th Anniversary

Recently I had the pleasure to participate in the BEI Services company trip. Being one of the newcomers to the BEI Family, this trip was a wonderful opportunity to see firsthand the dynamics of how both leadership and talented doers collaborate. It became obvious why BEI is so well respected. They truly deliver to market a SaaS which does what it’s designed to do and does it remarkably through remarkable people.

This BEI Services trip was indeed special; the company is celebrating their 25th anniversary. When a business starts out in the basement 25 years ago and is still thriving it’s an awesome accomplishment so, congratulations to its Co-Founders Wes McArtor and Greg Moseley. The two of them and their talented team have built one of the most influential resources to the profitability of the copier and printer industry, and many are benefiting greatly from its services.

Yes, there have been some attempts by copycats, but there is only one original. BEI Services is the industry leader. Gathering statistics on nearly 16,000 technicians, more than 60,000 service calls a day, and almost 4 million devices. BEI Services trademarked Worldstats™ is the world’s largest monitored service network in the industry. Helping to improve the bottom lines of hundreds of partner's around the world.  

Today the Copier and Printer services industry is going through many transitions. It is more important than ever for its participants (Dealer Owners) to extract as many benefits (Profit) from their current delivery system as possible as they transition to what will be new. At today’s speed to innovation logical business sense tells us that things are modifying fast and innovators are all around the borders of not just the imaging channel they also are or are planning the disruption of many other industries.

BEI Services is the number one software tool to learn from the past then implement and correct behaviors in the present thereby ensuring the much-needed profitability to continuously build and deliver what the future holds.Leaders today must stay vigilant to questioning why things must be improved, and as they answer those questions, they will discover the importance of properly preparing. Today data must be part of all decisions and managing by data is critical to a company’s success in our innovative fast past world.  

“The true test of Leadership is their ability to deconstruct obsolescence, as they construct relevance.”

My career in the Industry is itself 25 plus years. I have witnessed first-hand the many modifications both the Dealers and the Manufacturers consistently made. However, in the past, there was more time to contemplate needed changes. Today the threats are enormous from not only innovators within the channel but the unknown from outside the channel. The speed of being disrupted has increased immensely.

“Products do not build industries People do; products go obsolete, but people have to choose whether they become obsolete.”

Too many are still complacent in what they believe they know which is stagnating their desire to learn what they need to know. If you’re a BEI Services Customer, thank you for your business and loyalty. If you're not yet a BEI Services customer, remember today it’s more important than ever to reclaim inefficient operating cost. The future will be exciting for those who prepare, and BEI Services is working hard each day to help our partners travel through their progression of success.

In 2018 we will be releasing new exciting ways in which our data will help your organization sustain the needed margins allowing you the ability to bring the future to the present. In January we released our Executive Insight Report giving even greater insight to our dealer owners. Understanding how to improve then implementing whats needed takes strong leadership. Today there is no more comfort or rewards in complacency. Dealers must run from those who pitch the everything is fine or create rewards for you based on what you did instead of rewarding you for accomplishing what you need to do. BEI Services has always provided our customers with accurate factual data, in an easy to digest format that is the blueprint for quantifiable improvement.

In Closing; I think this quote describes why BEI Services is so passionate to help the industry we call home.

 “A company becomes obsolete when they focus on bringing the past to the future instead of bringing the future to the present, and reclaiming uncontrolled operating cost provides the needed profit to keeping a company relevant as they transition through an innovative world.”

R.J. Stasieczko   

Relationships, Change in a Pull-Economy

That is my explanation of the Push-Economy becoming the Pull-Economy.” RJS

How will customer relationships change? Here’s my thinking.

In the product pushing sales environment of the past, the customer was sought after, courted and the seller of the product based their customer acceptance on the relationship they created with the buyer. In a Pull-Economy the buyer becomes the hunter the buyer forms relationships based on their experience in acquiring what they desire. A Pull-Economy removes the power from the seller and gives it to the buyer. The Pull-Economy redirects the search from sellers searching prospects, to sellers becoming prospects to buyers. Today choices are easily identified, researched, and acquired so, the need for the pushing of products through outdated selling strategies or marketing strategies of the past is diminishing greatly. The challenge will be for resellers to determine how they respond at the intersection when their products become more of a commodity or are no longer near as valuable to the marketplace as they once were. In today’s innovative world many organizations and industries will find themselves at this intersection. 

Here are a few quotes I penned as warnings to how one’s greatest perceived or actual customer relationship assets can prove to be inconsequential as your customer discovers the new innovator who changed the game.

“You can be the vendor with the greatest relationships and lose to the new unknown competitor who delivers a better experience.” 

 “You can be the vendor who answers the phone in two rings and lose to the new unknown competitor who doesn’t even accept phone calls.”

“You can have been recognized as the markets greatest service provider and lose to the new innovator who redefines how your product is serviced.”

“Today It’s not the competitor we know and believe we can beat that should concern us. We must be vigilant to look to our imagination for the new competitor coming from places which were once unimaginable.”

The passion organizations have of their greatness must be balanced with the reality of how the marketplace accepts the greatness of what they sell. Think about how many organizations believe that the reason for their success is their great relationships. In 2018 this could be a dangerous strategy for the continuation of their prosperity especially if their deliverable is declining in customer needs and appreciation. In these new innovative times, the patience customers used have in remaining in the old way based on great relationships is quickly eroding.“The new way’s momentum is fueled by the old way’s stubbornness.”

Today’s customer wants relevance, and more importantly, they now can seek and define on their own what they determine is relevant. Customers have the tools and the means to seek alternatives to what they once desired with little or no human intervention. Customers are building digital relationships based user experiences, and from their, they determine the value of the human component. Those organizations who can integrate with their customers over interrupting them will prevail. Today it’s not just sales and service organizations who have the availability of data mining to guide a decision processes more and more end-users are preceding their vendors in their own data mining. They are searching for solutions without involving their current vendors and forming new relationships from what they've discovered. 

When organizations or industries are going through disruption, many spend more focus on what I call “Relevance Convincing” They convince themselves and their industry peers that what they manufacture or deliver still has the relevance it once had regardless what the marketplace decided. Instead of investing in diversification or even re-inventing the how of what they do, they instead re-invest, and some even double down in the hallucinations of their past greatness. The pioneer or innovator re-invents the past or brings the future to the present. Innovators bring a new delivery system for the customers desired outcomes. SMB resellers must leave the emotional baggage of yesterday’s marketing strategies behind them. Those outdated strategies which attempt to make relevant what customers themselves have decided is irrelevant or is quickly declining in its relevance.         

As yesterday’s products become more user-friendly and require less and less human intervention, the relationships will continue shifting. Organizations who have lived and benefited by the decades-old Pull-Economy must reinvent their methods of courting customers in the new Pull-Economy. One thing will never change regardless of any economy, and that is this; your “Marketing must come second to your Remarkability and always remember your remarkability is at the mercy of its receiver.”

“Your marketing is about you cheering you; your remarkability is about your customers cheering you.”

R.J. Stasieczko

The Exit Row

I just want legroom, I don’t want to be responsible for evacuating a plane. Do you ever wonder if the people in the exit row paid attention to the instructions; after all those doors don’t open themselves. Why is it that we trust those in charge? Is it a blind trust?

“Crisis Management has no patience for the unprepared or those with delusions regarding the tenure of their temporary comfort.”

Running a business and airline travel have a commonality. They both require someone to take charge and lead the exit when the alarm sounds. Unfortunately, both in the plane and in the business, people are occupying the emergency exit row seats who are not prepared. They never studied the manual, or they are in a dream zone thinking everything will be fine, and some will cower in the corner covering their eyes and ears afraid to even imagine an impending doom. So, I ask, in your business are you prepared? Who will open the emergency exit?

I believe all businesses should have an emergency exit row team. This team unlike those on the plane would be picked based on skill’s, and along with bravery, would have wisdom. This team would understand the importance and value of conflict in leadership, this team would challenge the relevancy of everything thought sacred, and without a doubt, this team could successfully guide the businesses exit off currently onto the temporary safety of what comes next.

Business leaders when was the last time you or your leadership team asked how your business could be defeated? Or when was the last time you discussed your strategy to exit currently? Too many leaders and their subordinates get bogged down in their current comfort of how great everything is. Of course, they seldom pay attention to the meaning of the word currently. They sit around the conference room and talk about how much better they are then their current competition.

Here’s the impending disaster when a business has an arrogance of greatness. Companies stubborn to their greatness don’t know who their competitor is because they refuse to imagine the emergent of the unknown disruptor. They assume their competitor is the same as yesterday, and they refused to challenge themselves or their deliverables current relevance. Unknown competitors come from unexplored places, and they win because the old way has a lack of imagination. So, stop wasting time congratulating yourself on winning against your current known competitor that’s your job. Today leaders must look for the unknown competitor. The competitor who changes the game bringing the new relevance.

“Without the ability to understand how we could be defeated we are at the mercy of those who plan and execute our defeat.”

On the plane, we hope for the best, in business, there is a much greater percentage of impending doom alarms sounding than those on a plane. So, be prepared and have a strategy to exit from irrelevancy to new temporary relevancy your growth will depend on it. In all reality, those who constantly search and understand how they can be defeated will always redefine their growth strategy. A company’s continuous growth is a product of their ability to continuously modify.

“The meetings to cheer our greatness must be balanced with meetings to fear and respond to our possible demise.”

In Closing: Next time you sit in the exit row don’t sit there just for the legroom be prepared to respond when the alarms sound.

R.J. Stasieczko

The Wrecking Ball

Recently while walking through downtown as I looked around at all the modification taking place, it validated my thinking of how nothing remains as it was once intended. The marvelous of technology consistently change our intentions and speed up the tenure of relevancy. Eventually, we need to bring in the wrecking ball and deconstruct the past to construct the future. Many will hope for more time, some will be victims of time, while a few others will continue being ahead in time.

Sears is a great example of holding on to the past betting time can save them. Sears is a victim of their obsolescence caused by their lack of imagination. They continue to hold on to yesterday as they watch all of their resources disappear. They’ve allowed their assets to fade away. Instead, when they were plentiful, they should have used them to de-construct their irrelevancy and construct their new relevance. Their stubbornness to modify is forcing them to liquidate assets to pay their bills; bills customers used to pay for them. Sears lost control of their de-construction, and along with that, they had no relevant architecture to construct something new.

Like the taxi industry, Sears did not listen to the marketplace they instead listened to their delusions of recreating yesterday’s glory. They can not see through their current stubbornness to what they could have been, and now their demise is probable. One would have to ask. If Richard Sears were alive today would Amazon be called Sears? Some will blame the retail apocalypse for destroying Sears. The truth is,  It’s a lack of imagination and their stubbornness in maintaining a yesterday’s marketplace as their customers shop in tomorrows.

Watching the reactions to market disruptions is interesting. Those who can disrupt themselves have more control they understand when to bring in the wrecking ball destruct their obsolescence and construct their new relevance. However too many industries experiencing disruptions are reacting like, Sears they hold on to the past watching their assets deplete. Then there are others who are obsessed with buying more market share of what the market already determined it doesn’t want or doesn't need as much as it used to.

"When a marketplace concludes where the line of growth ends. Nothing can raise that growth line whether based on good intentions, large investments or buying market share through acquisitions; nothing can move the line of growth above were the marketplace decided to draw it."  

All the growth in a declining market is only temporarily borrowed or obtained from those exiting. Only through innovative construction in a declining market is there a path to new revenues and profits. If the acquisitions bring diversification, the strategy makes sense. As an example, why did Sears buy Kmart instead of a software company or logistics company? Why are taxi companies buying other taxi companies? Should they instead be investing in driverless technology or something else their imagination could show them? Regardless of the industry buying more of the same makes sense in a growth market, and buying diversification makes sense when your core deliverable’s market is in decline. When more of your revenue growth is coming from acquisitions rather than customers, it’s time to change who you acquire. Buying customers is easy keeping customers takes relevance, and relevance is the ability to listen to and react to what the marketplace is telling you. The desperation to grow revenue can overtake the discipline to grow profit; especially in declining markets.

We have all heard the saying; “The worst time to go shopping is when you're hungry. You always buy too much, and most of it goes bad before you eat it.”  That is also good acquisition advice.

Amazon’s acquisition strategy will influence the future innovators and cause current leaders to re-think their philosophy of investing in more of the same. Jeff Bezos has taken diversification to a whole new level. Bezos does not invest in something because he’s comfortable with its deliverable, he invests in what the market wants and then gets comfortable delivering it. He listens to the market not the emotional baggage of comfortableness. As this new innovative world continues shorting the life of relevancy. Many leaders will face the decision to call in the wrecking ball to deconstruct their past and construct their future.

“Bussiness Complanacy is the enemy of what could be. It will embed itself in the insecure first as it attempts to confine status quo.”  

R.J. Stasieczko    

Knowing the Cost of Indecisiveness

During the transformation of a business or industry, it’s important to understand both the cost of inaction and the cost to respond. Many organizations plan their path forward they determine a budget, put together a proforma, assign the team and move forward enthusiastically.

Going from where you are to where you need to be is not a journey for the indecisive. Today the greatest test of any leader is how they respond to innovation’s threat. Disruptive innovators using the marvels of technology are and continue to change the things we thought to be unchangeable, or at least we hoped the current circumstances of our comfort would last forever.

As leaders plan the construction of what will be, they must also plan the destruction of what was. During this process, not only do you need a complete understanding of the cost associated with the progress towards what will be new. They must also comprehend the cost associated with any temporary stalling in the what is along the way. In this transition process, leaders will have many opportunities to prove their determination to create and deliver a new order of things. As the leader recognizes opportunities for improvement, they must remember that their greatest responsibility is to the business.

Most will attest a business is a living breathing entity which provides, nourishment, and security to those it employs. When the business comes second to a human, it threats the remaining humans who rely on its stability and wherewithal to provide. There is no greater threat to businesses than indecisive or insecure leadership. You can recognize them when their comfort of complacency supersedes their comfort in leading a new way forward when a new way forward is demanded by either innovation or market conditions.

So, as the organization is moving along the road to a re-invention, restructure, or simply the continuous modification required of all businesses. They must have along with them not only the proforma outlining rewards of what’s to come. They must also analyze and understand the cost and burden of any temporary stubbornness that stalls them along the way.

“Perceived stability is the greatest threat to a company’s willingness to cause Innovation.”

Think about a service industry or business where there is a “Serviceability Transition” A transition were service needs are diminishing through increases in the product’s reliability thereby disrupting the legacy service model. The disruption is that the new product only requires one service interaction to the old products four or five service interactions.

This type of disruption is not uncommon. Think about the Television, think about the everyday appliances used in homes, think about the automobile industry. Now think about your industry. I assure you I am thinking about mine.

“We have become a society of replacing it, over fixing it, this trend continues to affect products once thought would always need repairing.”

The facts are that all products which require a service deliverable will consistently improve to reduce service interaction, and today that improvement is moving faster than ever. The demands of end-users who desire “Service Free Experiences” are growing at record speeds. In the past products were made to break and be fixed. The aftermarket revenue from replacing parts and servicing the product was equal to the revenue from selling the product. However, in most cases, the profit was always greater on the service deliverable. 

“Today Product end-users care more about never needing service than they do about how good your service is.”

As service models modify, the two key components needing the proverbial under the microscope management are Parts and People, or Labor. Parts are easy just realign your inventories. If ever a reason to ensure that there is never more than 6-8 weeks of parts usage in a service providers inventory it’s during a declining market where equipment is rapidly improving, have a strategy to eliminate back stock which matches the strategy to move from the legacy service intensive equipment to the new innovative equipment. Don’t be the last T.V. repairman who had thousands of dollars and a five year supply of tubes in stock the day Televisions stopped using tubes. 

Now comes the hard part, The People. The hardest job of any leader is the responsibility of the people. When workforce corrections are needed and not responded to the consequences can be devastating it jeopardizes the life of the organization. Even with the knowledge and understanding that personnel corrections are needed the pain associated with implementation is troubling. After all, humans are supposed to have compassion, and thankfully most do. However, I must repeat my earlier thoughts “The health of the company is every leader’s greatest responsibility.” Leaders who prepare for transitions must include the human capital implications in their roadmap. In other words, don’t hire more sailors when you know you are replacing your boat with a train. Planning a different future must include a plan for the people as much as the plan for the product. During transitions, the unprepared will try fitting people into positions, and those prepared will have people in positions they fit.

During good times and bad how one prepares for the constant modifications needed in today’s business world will define them. Many organizations will face opportunities which will challenge everything they thought was sacred. When leaders understand the cost impact of indecisiveness, they will respond appropriately that’s what leaders do. In this innovative world, as we elect or are forced to transition along with our proforma describing what we strive. We must also put together a detailed description of what the cost will be if we stall progress with in-action. In-action is an unnecessary cost and will overwhelm the good intentions of what we know must be done.

“In business, good intentions must be balanced with the reality of the importance of profit.”

R.J. Stasieczko  

Lunch at the Terminal

Well, the day has finally come when what we thought was impossible is now not only possible it’s reality. It seems that things which challenge the concept of normalcy sooner or later prove that normalcy is never defined instead it’s only interpreted.

Interpretation is the translation of those whom we collaborate. Today how and who we collaborate with will prove to be instrumental in our success. We can no longer seek only those who think like us in hopes for some improvement. We must instead seek to collaborate with those who can help define our reinvention keeping us constantly relevant. Collaborating in the 21st century cannot strictly be about looking for what absolutes we can discover from commonalities. Today’s collaborations must also include seeking and defining the unknown.

“When you stop looking for absolutes is when you discover the excitement of the unknown.”

Recently at an airport terminal’s restaurant, I found myself within ears distance of a conversation between some executives from the retail food industry. As these executives talked, you could hear both passion and complacency. One could relate the conversation to many industry leaders. A conversation regarding the threaten tenure of what is.

A passionate member of the group was describing a need for change based on the facts of the marketplace, facts about the changes to their ex-customers desires. Then there was the insecure executive who subconscious you could hear the pleading for things to remain as they are while his conscious voice articulated what could only be described as wishful thinking. The other members at the lunch meeting would have no conviction of their own instead went back and forth with their agreements. I stopped counting the times I heard “no one would do that,” or “that is impossible.” Personally, regarding the phrase “No one” I believe, “No one is usually someone you refused to look for.” The passionate character was persistent in her attempt to break through the sound barrier of complacency her fellow collaborators had constructed.

“The shield of complacency is the armor used by those insecure of their place in the future.”

Why do so many leaders make the companies fight for survival, a survival about them? Everyone knows it should be about the customer or lack of them, not the insecure who can’t imagine their place in a new order of things. As I listened, I could hear the stubbornness to maintain completely overwhelm the eagerness to explore. Most of the executives have pre-determined what their customers want along with the experience they desire and they base this pre-determination exclusively on the what and how they currently deliver to market. They are convincing themselves that facts about perceptions outweigh reality.

 “We cloud our thinking of what’s possible when sameness fills the atmosphere around us.”

When organizations or industries arguments for complacency are based only on their past relevance, and past experiences they miss the opportunity to explore and learn how their comfort of currently could ultimately be undermined. Today with ever growing speed, the deliverables of many industries are being reinvented or destroyed. Making way for what the past interpenetrated as impossible a reality. Let’s open the door of the sameness chamber step out and seek what will be the new normal, let’s be the translators of the future we can only do this when we leave our terminal of complacency and enter the world of opportunity.

R.J. Stasieczko        

Customer Experience is not discovered in a Survey

So, the leadership decides to survey their customers; please tell us how we are doing? Most all organization perform this exercise some so much it's annoying and some hardly ever. The results are always the same our customers love us, our customers would most definitely buy from us again, and our customers say that they are happy. Oh yes, there is always one or two who complain and wish they never meet us, of course, most of the time we determine the complainers are unreasonable.

Yes, knowing how your customers feel is important. However, customer satisfaction is not a true measurement of customer experience. Too many confuse Customer Experience with Customer Satisfaction. Let me explain my thinking.

Customer Satisfaction, I define as a relationship-driven process based on our customer’s satisfaction with the current circumstances of our product or service. The customer bases this satisfaction with an unawareness of what could be better. They evaluate what and how things currently are.

Customer Experience, I define this way. Customer Experience lives at the intersection where Customers and Products or services meet. Their Experience is determined by how easy they can navigate through this intersection an intersection where the roads are paved more and more with digital asphalt. Great Customer Experiences will always win against Customer Satisfaction. The customer was completely satisfied with an outdated or complacent deliverable until a new better Experience became available.     

These definitions of mine are what influenced me to pen the following quote; “You can be the vendor with the greatest relationships in the world and lose to the new unknown competitor who delivers a better experience.”

There are many examples where Customer Satisfaction lost to a better Customer Experience such as the Taxi industry, the Hospitality industry, the retail brick, and mortar industry are a few. So, let’s use Amazon the disrupter of the Brick and Morter industry as an example:

The brick and mortar leaders sent out their surveys; they asked how the stores looked? Were they clean? Were the clerk’s friendly? Did you feel safe in the parking lot? Then they ask, were you satisfied? They ask for a rating from 1 to 5.  

Well, more than half the surveyed customers filled out the survey, and nearly all did it online, and after they hit send they resumed filling up their Amazon shopping cart. The customer was indeed satisfied with the current circumstances of their local brick and mortar store. However, these customers were beginning to realize the benefits of the Amazon shopping Experience most determined shopping online was a better Customer Experience. The convenience of traveling digitally through the Intersection where they met the products they want and need is proving to be an Experience the brick and mortar stores are struggling to match.  

Obviously, some will argue that Amazon is terrible, or their customer service is deplorable. Of course, Amazon is not concerned by a few. Amazon thrives because of the millions and millions who traded in old vendor relationships based on temporary satisfaction for the ever-improving better experience.

In Closing:

“It’s easier for the old way to modify through reinvention and keep their customer than the inventor to invent and seek the customer.”

The quote above is the reason that every business leader must work tirelessly to ensure they control all aspects of operational cost regardless whether their current circumstances are satisfactory or even thriving. We all should know that temporary is a shorter than every tenure. Cost control is what affords the company the resources to modify constantly ahead of forced change. Today a company’s speed and their discipline to transform or modify quickly is the greatest asset to ensure survival.  Today’s leaders must understand the Importance of the phrase “Currently this is how we do it.”

“Customer Experience is what feeds Customer Satisfaction, don’t let your Customers starve in Satisfaction.”

R.J. Stasieczko

The Customer has Imagination Too

The past already happened it is defined and remembered. The future is a work in progress; the future is always an unfinished painting or a never-ending movie. As one who is always exploring what could be from what temporarily is I understand the importance and the role of imagination.Regardless of your industry, as you migrate from the way it was, to the way it will be; it’s important to remember that industries change because their customers did. Today we must imagine with our customers as they imagine a better way, as they create the new reasons (why) they will or will not interact with someone or something.

On the road to the future, what was will continuously try to stop the vehicle of what could be.”

During times of disruption or industry transformations looking ahead at what could be is a constant process for the visionary. However, those who find the present more rewarding will sabotage the conversations of what could be with the screams of what was or what is. They will attempt a coup on any progression towards the future or anyone who may attempt at delivering what the future holds. We must all remember the choice whether to change or modify is not the business it’s the customers. The business just decides whether it keeps or losses its customer.  

As the new year presents itself some will wish for a continuation of what was, many will hope for better things, and few will have made plans to execute on something new. Many industries are finding themselves in transition or disruption. Many did not prepare, did not hear, or refuse to listen to the warnings. During times of disruption, it’s the end-users of products and services which fuel the movement to the new or disruptive way. I find it interesting that those who find themselves challenged when a new order of things appears always blame the disruptors for their downward spiral. Customers determine the preferred What, how and the why they respond to all market forces. Without the customer, there is no market.

Organizations today must have the ability to look past their current circumstances, to ignore the rhetoric of the way it was. Leaders must decide if they will be a victim of disruption or lead their disruption. Today more than ever organizations must listen and pay attention to the signs as their modifying customers look for better options with better experiences. Today more and more end-users value the experience in how they engage with a reseller’s product, its delivery, and support. Too many believe customer relationships will win over customer experience. Things have changed today a customer experience is why they buy a customer relationship is because they buy.

The customer today has more options and has more resources to evaluate those options than ever in history. Things are changing faster than ever. I believe it’s the customer who gives the disrupter momentum. Organizations void of stubbornness who listen to and can imagine with their customers’ what their customers’ desire either new or reinvented will win. Organizations who fight disruption with more of the same will find themselves obsolete at the regretable table.

Let’s all accept that 2018 will change what we do, and how we do it. These changes will be a result of the why our customers continue to engage us or engage with someone new. Let’s us all stop building the future with memories, and start building the future with what we can imagine our customers are imagining.

“Painting your vision of the future requires the ability to paint over your memories with the paint of your imagination.”

R.J. Stasieczko

Before How is Why

“In a business creation or it’s reinvention, It’s the Why the customer buys it that starts the business plan.”

Why should any company or industry reinvent themselves? A critical question for all businesses. Some will ask themselves this question long before others and create the answer for those competitors who waited. Too many waste time in the complacency of now, this complacency always demands justification on How something could be done different or modified and ignores the Why something needs to be different. These arguments of (how) take precedent over discoveries of why every time. Complacency will always put a shadow on why something different is needed. Reinventors or innovators look outside for answers to the why something needs modification they define through collaboration and imagination. Innovators or reinventors understand the importance of why what’s the reason for something new or something to be modified the answer will define the how.

I was standing out in front of my residence waiting on Alice the UBER driver to take me to the airport. As I stood there thinking how much I like UBER, I decided to change the conversation in my mind and think about why I didn’t like cabs anymore. It boils down to the experience. From the beginning of the engagement till the end I was informed and felt in control. The digital customer experience of UBER just kills the outdated multifaceted analog experience of the cab company. It’s the APP; it’s about getting the desired outcome with a simplicity which then becomes the better experience.  

 “You can be the vendor with the greatest relationships and lose to the new unknown competitor who delivers a better experience.”

I began to think does this quote apply to a service based business where the client and the vendor have a contracted relationship, or does it apply more towards the client-vendor relationship based on a call and pay as you go service relationship, like the Taxi industry?  I would guess that very few people had relationships with cab drivers, and quite frankly very few passengers have relationships with UBER or LYFT drivers. Is it this non-relationship between end-user and vendor which allowed the share ride model to expand beyond belief and challenge the Taxi, hospitality, technology, Retail, most all industries?

My answer is relationships in business will always be circumvented by a better experience regardless of the industry and regardless of the deliverable. Those who believe that their great relationship will persevere an obsolete experience or customer engagement are delusional. So, let’s determine the definition of an obsolete experience. First, don’t confuse bad customer service with a bad user experience. You can deliver a great customer experience and still deliver bad service as you can have the greatest customer service and deliver a terrible or completely outdated experience. Bad service will correct itself with discipline. However, a bad customer experience will only correct itself with a new business plan. Today customers what an experience in the means phase of achieving the outcomes they desire, customers what to acquire your products, or receive your services which aligns with their digital life.

 “Customer experience is determined at the intersection of the digital and physical worlds.”  

The Share Economy gave birth to many new organizations and gave opportunities for many legacy organizations to modify, to reinvent themselves. Ironically many saw the threat and wished it away, they complained about in courts, they stayed on the track to becoming obsolete and soon will realize they have arrived.

Whether the Innovator is building something new or the reinventor, who modifies to offer their current customer what the innovator created. The pioneers of the technology which built the sharing economy understood the power of the mobile hand-held device. These pioneers knew that the digital world was quickly merging with the physical world. The why for the innovators was simple. The customer has a device which could search, call, map, and execute payment for services. Building a platform allowing total control from the start to the end of the engagement would deliver the customer experience to the intersection where the digital and physical worlds meet.

The Taxi customer always had the device; the Taxi industry never asked why they should modify. The customer they picked up called them, waited blindly for the driver, the customer went to google maps to educate themselves on the distance of the ride, and the customer paid with a credit card when the ride was over in many cases the driver used a cell phone to complete the transaction (Square). If the Taxi Industry just ask why they should modify paid attention to the puzzle of their deliverable and then began collaborating with technology companies they would have discovered the how.  

So, all industries and all companies for that matter must ask themselves, why what they sell or how they service should modify to deliver a better customer experience. Why should the way your customers purchase and receive your products modify, or why should your service structure modify when you answer the why the how will begin to emerge. The caution is, the why is about what customers desire not what you desire.

In Closing;

“In the distance between the business plan and the business failure is where you find Stubbornness to Modify.”

R.J. Stasieczko       

We Need Continuous Relevancy Management; Change Management comes too late.

“Attention Legacy Companies! While you continuously fight to get buy-in for change your new competitor bought in for continuous improvement and bets on your complacency.”

What do you mean you can’t get buy-in. Why are management teams so focused on the pacification of Buy-in Management? Too many organizations are losing the battle of their relevancy because they insist on focusing on Change Management over Relevancy Management. And yes I believe there is a difference.

It seems that the arguments for moving in a different direction always relate to Buy-in for so many legacy organizations. In the world of business today the winners will be those who can move fast, those whose teams understand it’s not about change, it’s about constant relevancy. Think about Amazon, a company that started out selling books online; they are now a 150 Billion Dollar organization selling everything under the sun including the clouds, with a market cap which eclipses each of the top ten retailers north of 100 billion making their owner, Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world. If Amazon”s leadership constantly worried about “Change Management” does anyone believe they would be building their second Headquarters, a headquarters where the chosen city benefits from a 5 Billion Dollar Boom?

While the brick and mortar retail industry wasted time getting buy-in and refused to change.  Amazon continued in its relentless ability to modify constantly. Jeff Bezos bets on and takes advantage of the time his competitors waste fighting against or for change. While Amazon’s competitors are contemplating the reasons for the change, Bezo’s Amazon team is modifying to the new relevancy, this then forces his competitors to change, and for many, it becomes too late.     

“Those who deliver the Future to the Present, are always delivering relevance, those who don’t temporarily deliver their past relevance.”

Teams today must be held accountable for relevancy making. The word Change and the word Relevancy are not relatives. Change is the process or result of becoming different. Relevancy is Something relevant to a task if it increases the likelihood of accomplishing a goal. Relevancy is a constant process; change is a forced process caused by not staying relevant.

The goal of all businesses is to provide the means to a buyers desired outcome or goal. In my view, the desired outcomes and the means to their achievement constantly evolve, so the relevancy of both the outcome and the means to their achievements must stay relevant for sustainability. When organizations tasks themselves with what many call Change Management, they find themselves running around trying to get buy-in. This constant battle for buy-in from team members becomes a bartering system of demands and bribes between management and their teams in the hope things move forward; they hope things change. When you are forced to change the pain it causes becomes distracting. The cost of forced change is the fine you pay for not modifying along the way.

Innovative organizations understand that needing to change is the essence of a failed attempt at constantly staying relevant. Innovative organizations understand their corporate culture is about providing exceptional experiences to their customers. Today's innovative companies don’t chase Buy-in, and they don’t have to waste time with change management tactics. They instead have a process which ensures their constant relevance. Staying Relevant is in the first sentence of their job descriptions.  

Today’s customer has more access to define not only new outcomes but also the means to their achievement. A company with a constant focus on relevance will modify keeping pace with the evolution of their product or its services. It’s this constant modification which defines their management. The outcome of Constant Relevancy is dependent on the leaders and the teams they lead understanding the power and importance of the word “Currently.”

“In business, of the doors which open to yesterday, today or tomorrow only the door to tomorrow is locked, and relevancy is its key.”

R. J. Stasieczko