One of our writers recently joined a service club in his town. Like many organizations of this type, membership in these clubs is shrinking as older members pass away and aren’t replaced by new ones. Our writer, a welcome, youthful addition to the club, was asked about ways to grow the membership.
Freeze the action there: our writer, believe it or not, will never be more valuable to that service club than he is right now. How is that possible? He hasn’t done any service projects or chaired any committees yet. But it’s true. Why? Because he brings a fresh set of eyes to the organization.
Often, business leaders, especially when they have been at the company for many years, lose the ability to see the organization as it truly is. They no longer question why things are done the way they are, or how they can be improved. The company simply does things because “that’s how they were always done.”
Management can glean several lessons from this. First, because outsiders and newcomers aren’t surrounded by a company’s products or services every day, they’re more attuned to what’s unique about them. They’ll immediately form impressions of what is good or bad. They’ll quickly see is what can be improved and offer ideas about how to turn prospects into customers.
Best of all, newcomers don’t have any vested interest, sweat equity or emotions tied up in a product or service. They didn’t work 80-hour weeks to meet design deadlines. They didn’t have to send three versions of a product to the VP before receiving clearance to proceed. Newcomers are more likely to cast off bad ideas rather than say, “We worked so hard on that. We can’t possibly give up on it!”
As a business owner or marketing professional, you owe it to yourself and your company to bring in outsiders and get their honest assessment of what they see. Don’t be afraid of criticism. After all, this exercise will help your business be successful, and that should certainly be one of your goals! Listen intently, and don’t be quick to defend your positions or argue with them. This will only discourage them from giving you their unfiltered opinions, which is exactly what you need.