Wisdom From Seeking Counsel of Many

by Jay Deragon on 08/20/2013

wisdomWhich are the wiser choices?  Hire a management consulting firm to give you their insights, perspective and analysis of your business performance or seek the counsel of stakeholders to find out what matters to them?

Really the answer depends on which end of the stick drives your business. Is it the financial end or the stakeholder end? One is input and the other is output.

For decades businesses have learned to collect data on performance metrics such as financials, processes, customer growth, productivity, competitor benchmarks, and the list goes on and on. Then the internet exploded with even more data so now businesses are all about measuring “engagement”, site traffic, advertising effectiveness, Facebook Page likes, shares and the list goes on and on. It is as if we think the best measures are only the ones that we think matter to our business and not the measures that matters to the stakeholders that feed our business.

Most businesses would tell you that they do customer satisfaction and employee surveys. Such surveys are nothing more than an annoyance and are not designed to seek the wisdom needed to understand the changes in thinking needed to change the entire behavior of the business.  The reason is the premise of such surveys are on the assumption that the data will tell you what is really going on.  That in of itself represents flawed thinking just as thinking that all the other data you gather provides anything but lagging indicators and not leading indicators that have the greatest influence on performance.

What Matters to Your Stakeholders?

Most companies ask the same fundamental questions about their service or product performance levels to customers. Some discuss job satisfaction issues with employees; rarely do firms ask suppliers how well the relationship is going or the communities they serve what else they can do to show support. Even if they do the questions are typically self-serving and designed with one-sided purposes.

Management consultants serve the goals of business owners, not the stakeholders. Even in a connected, transparent marketplace fluid with more data than ever before the obsession is still fixed on creating meaning from the data for the interest of the business not the stakeholders.  The same data can give leading indicators that allow companies to do their greatest function of creating the most value for the stakeholders they serve.

The problem with numbers and measurements that most businesses and consultants use today is that it perpetuates the knowledge of the past and not the wisdom needed for the future. That wisdom comes from the many stakeholders that can tell you what matters to them vs. the few who think they know what matters to the business. To understand what really matters means we have to listen to what your business does that creates meaning for people.

What matters to people are the intangibles things of life. What matters to business are the tangible results. Smarter Companies know the difference.

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