A Light Bulb Has to Want to Change | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

There’s an old joke that asks how many psychologists it takes to change a light bulb. The answer is it doesn’t matter; the light bulb has to want to change. I think this has a deep truth when applied to the services market.

Almost every service provider looking for growth sees that capturing a share of the transformational marketplace is key to their success. In their effort to pursue this, they come up with arguments and proof points that they can do a business function better, faster and more cost-effectively than shared services or the target organization. They then conduct significant analysis, looking at which customers would be the best fit for their strategy.

Unfortunately for these providers, their efforts often are frustrating and come to very little reward. The reason can be seen in the light bulb joke. The key to significant transformational change has less to do with the potential impact and more to do with the motivations of the client and its willingness to change. Few people can be squeezed to undertake the risk of a significant large-scale change and transformation.

Key for service providers

Service providers seeking to capture transformational deals must first identify senior executives with a change agenda and then gain an understanding of how they wish to change. That is where the transformation journey must start. Although this sounds obvious, my experience has been that providers rarely approach the problem from this perspective.

When you couple this starting point with the changing objectives of customers focusing on business value and cycle time instead of costs that I’ve blogged about before, it’s easy to understand why so many providers’ strategies fail. Looking for transformation opportunities through the lens of cost savings is a mistake, and increasingly the provider’s efforts will go unrewarded.

Just like the light bulb joke, transformation opportunities won’t happen unless the customer wants to change and the provider understands what the customer wants to accomplish through the change.


Photo credit: Flickr

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