Signals and Worldviews

From the price you set to the metaphors you employ to the typeface you use in your newsletters, every item you send out in the world sends a signal. However, each signal runs through a filter before it is received. And that filter is the worldview of the receiver.

HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN IN RIGHT OF THE PROVINCE OF SASKATCHEWAN

As represented by

THE MINISTER of Agriculture

(Hereinafter referred to as “THE MINISTRY”)

-and-

Mark Dyck

(Hereinafter referred to as “THE SERVICE PROVIDER”)

We’ve been discussing “signals” quite a bit in over in the Right Company  community. From the price you set to the metaphors you employ to the typeface you use in your newsletters, every item you send out in the world sends a signal.

However, each signal runs through a filter before it is received. And that filter is the worldview of the receiver.

The six page contract that came last week for a 30 minute presentation I’d agreed to give (in exchange for gas money) is a case in point.

Even my single worldview drew out three distinct reactions.

  • What a power play! They’re just trying to push me down a peg. Service Provider – pfft.
  • Talk about bureaucracy! It cost them more to create the contract than the gas money. All for a 30 minute talk. What a waste.
  • That poor lady. She must be embarrassed to have to send me such a crazy contract for a tiny thing.

I’m sure you can think of more.

Now, the contract itself isn’t good or bad. A verbal agreement would create just as many reactions.

The question for us as leaders, storytellers and marketers isn’t “should I use a contract?” It’s not even “how will people respond to this signal?”

The more important question is “How will a person with the worldview I’m trying to connect with react to this signal?” Others will react differently and that’s OK.

The problem arises when we send a signal and are surprised by the response.

Good is much less than Great

Seth Godin used a visit to a car dealership to show that there is a very wide gulf indeed between a ‘good’ salesperson and a ‘great’ salesperson. I’ve been either working in a sales organization, or supporting our sales organization for three years now and I second Seth’s observations — it’s too easy to settle for ‘good enough.’

In a roundabout way, Seth also points to some of the contributing factors which allow ‘good enough’ to occur. In my case, our sales force has been selected more to retain existing revenues over growing new sales; it’s part of the deal when you’re the incumbent and you’re protecting your base. But our sales compensation is so skewed toward guaranteed salary (and everyone making the same salary) that there’s no real incentive to significantly grow business. Growing business means forging new relationships and that’s riskier than working within your existing customer base. But if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking.

The corollary to Seth’s argument is: If you don’t pay the best, and let ‘good enough’ work for your competition, your ‘best’ will eventually be working for your competition.

Regional Airlines and the Classless Society

When you live in the sticks, you get served by regional airlines. The favorite jet of the regional airline seems to be the Canadair CL-600. They’re sleek, they’re fast and they only carry 50 people, so I assume they are fuel efficient too. Thanks for keeping my flights to under $2000 most of the time, Air Canada.

There’s some real good news here. First Class? Forget about it! There’s no First Class in the Regional jet. I get to rub shoulders with Captains of Industry, former football greats and former Federal politicians. But do I really have to physically rub shoulders with these people? Elbows, legs, knees and tummies too? I sat beside a guy on the way to Calgary who was at most 175 pounds and we couldn’t stay ‘disconnected’ for more than 30 seconds. The guy behind me (at most 220 pounds) apologized to the guy beside him (at most 6 feet tall) that they were in for a rough flight because neither of them actually fit in their seat.

I can live with the fact that no carry-on bags can actually fit in the cabin on these planes but couldn’t they make the planes even 24 inches wider for our collective buttocks? We can’t all be 4′ 10″ and 100 pounds.

I’m 5′ 8″ tall with shoes on. We can all lose a few pounds, but my belt covers the widest part of my middle, if you know what I mean. But when I fly, I’m a Pro-Bowl linebacker. Who knew?