Words of Wisdom #16

A number of years ago Donald Rumsfeld was mocked for using the statement “we don’t know what we don’t know.” I understand the furor that went with the comment. After all he was the United States of America’s Secretary of Defense and isn’t he supposed to know everything there is to know? Of course he isn’t. But it also highlighted a growing misunderstanding about leadership and management. These people are supposed to know everything aren’t they? For some time now many people around the world have been searching for that “special person.” This is the person who will lead us out of the wilderness and restore us to our rightful position. These are the people that will give us security and make us feel better.

I am starting to believe that it is always someone else that is to blame. Never is it our fault. They didn’t ask me? They didn’t listen to me. I knew that would happen why didn’t they know it? These have become the “normal state of affairs in this “new normal” or my “new reality.” There is little responsibility being taken, not enough accountability and clearly not nearly enough leadership.

I believe that individuals always want to do the right thing. They want to succeed. They don’t want to leave the planet without somehow making a mark. I also believe that people can do more than they think that they can. This I suspect comes from being punished from making mistakes earlier in our lives – either at home or a school or in the workplace. Today very few people will go outside their comfort zone because every time in the past when they have gone there and failed –  they got criticized. It is a wonder we learn anything when we aren’t allowed to fail at anything any more.

So now let’s get back to not knowing what we don’t know.

We don’t know our market share for parts or service in the Capital Goods Industries. I think it would be very helpful if we did know. We would be able to crow about our abilities or we would have to be getting down to work and figuring out what we need to do to improve it. There is something called the “Law of Diffusion of Innovation” that splits the population up into sub groups. Innovators make up 2 ½% of our population. The next 13 ½% of our population are the early adopters. Then there are two groups each with 34 % that are the early majority and the late majority and this is all followed by the 16% called the laggards. So with our market share we should be well over the 16% level of the innovators and the early adopters. In fact we should easily be at 50% by including the early majority. But we are not are we? In parts I suspect that we are less than 40% and in service less than 20%. So this is where I believe that not knowing what we don’t know is critical to us. You see I don’t believe that there is anything in our actions that tells the market that we want to do things differently than we have in the past. I don’t believe that we are telling the market that we want to be better. So we leave our customers and the greater market to those suppliers that want the business that the customer offers. This is the business that I believe we should have to ourselves. These suppliers want to do what it is that the customer wants. And they will be the ones that will lead the customers and the market to tomorrow. Knowing what we don’t know would give us a hint. I wonder how many of you would take the hint and attempt to do things better and satisfy more of your customer’s and improve your customer satisfaction and loyalty and ultimately improve your market share for your parts department and your service department. You see continuing to do what you have always done expecting different results truly is insanity.

The time is now.