Client Centric Part II: Parents and their children start out with conflicting goals.

My second point in this blog series is that our natural self-centered goals don’t help achieve a client-centric culture. Raising six children gave me some insights into today’s business conflicts. Instant gratification begins shortly after birth when we cry for our mother’s milk. The mother wants peace and quiet while the baby wants food. Mom must stop what she is doing to feed the baby. The goal here is simple; feeding and clothing the baby maps to a healthier and happier parent and child, and it takes sacrifice and discipline on the part of the parent. The goals can stay the same, but the challenge magnifies itself as children grow and their appetites, needs, and desires increase.

Our goal was to raise happy, healthy, self-reliant children while staying sane and happy ourselves. Instant-gratification demands conflicted with the goal on a regular basis. The children wanted to stay up later, while mom wanted the children in bed so they would be healthier and not whiny the next day. To make sure my wife and I worked in harmony, we solidified the goals and then set in place a discipline for sticking to them. For example, our mantra was, “If you whine, cry, or complain you don’t get whatever you are hoping to get. If you can logically describe what it is you want and why you should reasonably have it, the chances are good you’ll get it.” This approach reduced mental wear and tear tremendously, the children were happier, and this helped them to be self-reliant. Giving in to a whining child broke the discipline and caused a disastrous domino effect.

Similarly, vendors and customers are naturally self-centered. If they can jointly aim at the customers’ success (a longer-term view) then both can act more effectively. Self-centered goals must be subservient to the overarching goal that both value. Vendor goals naturally migrate to dollars and then manifest themselves in dollars per whatever. Provider customers often tie their success to whatever organizational goals they have at the time. Alignment between the two is critical. Once both agree on what success looks like, it is easier to manage the overarching goal. In the home, when a teenager asks for the car keys or the four-year-old is looking to get another popsicle, the parent must have a clear vision of how that request fits into the family goals. If this seems simple, you haven’t raised many children or you have a secret the world is clamoring to know.

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