Friday, May 1, 2009

The Umbrella Story, Part Two--the forgotten

Yesterday, our post was focused on our business parable, The Umbrella Story--the story of an umbrella manufacturer (named Joe) and the store owner (named Bill). They at first forged a partnership that allowed each to focus on their strengths. As time rolled on, their relationship deteriorated to the point that they were almost enemies.

In the book, the biggest challenge they faced was a character named "Dawn." Dawn ran a communication company called the "Loudspeaker" which enabled her to sell product to the masses. Look at Dawn as, for example, the Internet. A disruptive technology.

This new technology formed a wedge between Joe and Bill. To sell the product this way changed everything. Both Joe and Bill were threatened and this drew them to meet.

They both realized that throughout the years they focused on selfish interests--their profit, their expansions, their gamesmanship with each other. During this time of impending doom, they both realized they had forgotten the most important issue:

The customer.

The redoubled their efforts to work together and to work with Dawn and her new technology. They couldn't go back to the old way of business, but they could still enjoy success together and make the customer happy.

Isn't that where we are today? Manufacturers are making decisions, dealers and other small businesses are making decisions to cut back or reduce offerings. Shouldn't we be focusing on what the customer wants and what they'd be happy to pay money for?

Barry LaBov, CEO
LaBov and Beyond

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