How many times do you go to an industry conference and you hear a speaker or an attendee turn a belief you had about the industry’s future upside down and explain the requisite behavioural change? They back that up with hard evidence or strong anecdotal information. I’ll bet it is no higher than 1 in a 100 event. With the exception of those operating in the technology or innovation arena, I’d say the odds might be even higher.
When everyone’s default position is to say the same thing and a reluctance to stand apart from the crowd, is it no wonder that the listeners struggle to differentiate between businesses on anything other than price or the pace of innovation is so slow? I have coined a term Provocative Growth to provoke, agitate and move businesses faster towards their profitable growth goals.
I am not suggesting you “poke your colleagues in the verbal eye” (the Bernie Ecclestone approach) or merely “grandstand” on a particular issue to draw attention to your own self-importance (the Donald Trump approach), what I am suggesting is your objective is to get the audience to say “I have never thought about it that way before”. If you want to grow your client relationships, dominate a particular market and be seen as the centre of expertise, you must provide irresistible value, provocation and empathy in the moment with clients.
The easiest way to accomplish that is to ask “where can I comfortably take a contrarian position and intellectually support my position (hard evidence or strong anecdotal insights)?” Incorporate it in your dialogue with clients and prospects, intellectual property, marketing exhibits, speeches, published articles, media appearances and so on.
Here is an example, almost universally senior financial services industry executives will bemoan any new regulations and the impact of compliance on the future cost base of the business and sector. I would argue “it is not the regulations, it is BOTH the speed and quality of your response, which is the real issue. In some cases you are creating a sledgehammer to crack a nut, in others you are defending the indefensible and in a few cases your action is spot on. Here is what I saw at (list example)….. Let’s agree where your response falls into one of those three categories and then consider where you could work smarter (technology, people, organisational structure) with my help to enhance the clients’ experience and the firm’s future while meeting or exceeding the regulator’s expectations.”
Your are right if you say provocation doesn’t come naturally to me or it is seen as counter-cultural in the firm. Just because you are right doesn’t make it right. You are paid to achieve results and enhance the future health and well-being of the firm and its’ clients. You can idly sit by and keep your head down or you can make waves. Your colleagues, business partners and clients will thank you in the long run for provoking the firm into action.
© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.