I am currently in the process of reading (actually, listening to) a remarkable book that has been listed by the Sunday Times. It is Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari and it is described as a Brief History of Humankind.
Among the many startling statements that he makes is one that really had me thinking. He says that:
“Consistency is the product of dull minds”
Now there’s a thought. I had always considered that any business that wanted to to be at the forefront of its sector needed to show a range of attributes such as honesty, transparency, enthusiasm, innovation, supreme service and consistency in everything that they do.
Perhaps we should examine the real meaning and hence the implications of the word itself to see why it should be so described.
The accepted usage of the word (Wikipedia) is as follows:
Consistent behaviour or treatment.
"the consistency of measurement techniques"
evenness, steadiness, stability, constancy, regularity, uniformity, equilibrium, unity, orderliness, dependability, reliability, lack of change, lack of deviation.
"the downward trend in consumption shows a remarkable degree of consistency"
We certainly want to give our customers the feeling that they are dealing with a business that is dependable, orderly, reliable but not to the extent of being boring and perhaps too predictable.
The really relevant words there are “lack of change, lack of deviation”.
Frankly we do want to be consistent in the way that we deal with our customers. They need to feel that there will be no negative surprises in the product, quality or service that we offer so that they will have above all that very desirable outcome for any purchasing department, peace of mind.
This means that all those great qualities of which we are justly proud like service, product and above all quality should be taken as givens.
However, the definition that includes “lack of change” needs to be considered more closely. Customers generally want to think that they are at the cutting edge of innovative thought and as a consequence they need to deal with suppliers that exemplify that attribute.
In fact that old quote that “the only constant in the business is change” becomes really significant. The more I look at the word “consistency” the more I wonder about just how important it is.
Whether a business goes in for dramatic change or whether it prefers the kai-zen approach of incremental change, both are necessary to prevent the business from stultifying.
Any business that prefers to send out a message of “no change” will very swiftly be overtaken by more agile companies that don’t go for the “we’ve always done it this way” approach.
Positive change is the lifeblood of any go ahead business. Make sure that if you are to be consistent, then be a consistent and enthusiastic communicator and innovator.
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