I’m convinced that my soon to be three-year-old son has an aspiring career as an agent of change. Maybe not tomorrow, of course, but the seeds have been planted for him to at least challenge his parents, teachers, and friends in the near future.
Over the past six months or so, my wife and I have traveled down the road of understanding the root cause of everything you could possibly imagine. My son has latched onto the question ‘Why?’ in reference to any subject he can think of. While frustrating at times, I’ve been somewhat amazed at how deep he wants to go into the reasons something is the way it is. In the process, I’ve found myself rethinking why I do things the way that I do, and why companies operate the way they do.
However, recently, I’ve seen a shift in my son’s interrogation techniques. It has moved from ‘Why?’ to ‘Then what?’, which I believe is a question that has even more relevance as I think about taking information and driving meaningful actions based on it. It’s not always sufficient to think about the very next step when looking to act upon feedback. We need to be thinking about the consequences of those actions, and what new actions might become evident either due to the fact that an issue has been completely resolved (raising others in priority), or repercussions (or even fallout) from the initial actions being taken. If we’re looking out for the best interests of our customers, we have to recognize that this activity never really stops, and that the celebration for any success is short-lived, as each action we take can and will elicit a reaction from our stakeholders.
We’re never going to be perfect, whether it be as parents, change agents, or organizations, but to the extent that we’re not only thinking about ‘Why’ things are they way they are, but also, ‘Then what’ based on our actions, we can minimize the likelihood of a misstep, and get ever closer to the elusive goal of undying customer loyalty and the success that accompanies it.
Vice President, Consulting Services