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The First Rule of Operational Excellence: Don’t Do Nothing
Productivity

The First Rule of Operational Excellence: Don’t Do Nothing

By Neal Rosen October 26, 2020

I was recently at a trade show, and I stumbled upon Sphera’s biggest competitor making a sales pitch. Rather than do nothing about it, I decided to do something proactive: eavesdrop. This is what I heard:

“I really appreciate getting some of your time today. I know you’re busy so I’ll keep this brief, but I’m confident that my presentation will be worth your while.

“As you know, the current economic climate throughout the world is challenging, and companies like yours have had to shrink budgets and keep spending down. Am I right?

“In fact, you may be asking yourself, ‘Why are you pitching a new product to us when we are clearly in no position to buy anything? You’re wasting my time.’ That’s a great question because, as I know all too well, wasting time is not a good use of most people’s time.”

The salesman then pulled out a chart, so I hid behind a rubber plant and snapped a quick photo. With my catlike maneuver, I’m sure no one noticed. We’ll call it Exhibit A.

Exhibit A

The First Rule of Operational Excellence: Don’t Do Nothing

The man continued, “As my chart shows, the vast majority of time, a buying decision will actually be to ‘Do Nothing.’ It’s the clear winner in today’s market.

“We have listened carefully to the market, and we are now ready to provide you exactly what you want and need. I’m here today to tell you about our exciting new product. It’s called ‘Do Nothing.’ Yes, our ‘Do Nothing’ product is poised to capture the entire ‘Do Nothing’ space. Now whenever a company needs to ‘Do Nothing,’ they’ll know where to turn!

“You may be thinking, ‘This “Do Nothing” product sounds too good to be true! Please tell us more.’ I’ll be glad to. When you license our ‘Do Nothing’ product, you will get to work very closely with our team of experienced consultants, who we cleverly call ‘The Do Nothings.’ Catchy, huh?

“Let me stress their high experience level. Every one of our Do Nothings has been doing nothing for 30 years, and they are ready to bring this experience directly to you.

“Our Do Nothings are ready to meet with you at your office at any time. Well, actually, you’ll have to meet them at our office. I mean, it’s a lot for them to have to leave the building.

“Anyway, you’ll come to our office and have a big sit-down session with the Do Nothings, and they will ask you to show them all of your current systems, processes and products, and they’ll want to hear about your biggest problems. At the end of the session, the ‘Do Nothings’ will let you know how great all of your current systems, processes and products are, and they’ll advise you to do nothing. And then they’ll do the implementation for you right then and there! You’ll be up and running with nothing before you even head home! Genius, right?


I stumbled upon Sphera’s biggest competitor making a sales pitch. Rather than do nothing about it, I decided to do something proactive: eavesdrop.

“In the weeks and months after you go live with nothing, if you ever find that you or someone else at your company is mistakenly trying to do something about your problems, you can call our Do Nothing customer support hotline 24 hours a day, except on designated Do Nothing Days, of course. Our Do Nothing agents are standing by ready to talk you out of doing something.

“We are clearly the only organization that can meet your do-nothing needs.

“Oh, and after you experience our ‘Do Nothing’ product, you might be interested in our other products in development like our ‘Status Quo Suite’ and the ‘If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It Platform.’ Thanks for your time. What do you think? Can we discuss doing nothing together?”

After some awkward silence, the salesman sensed that the “Do Nothing” approach was a nonstarter for this customer and walked away. Then the customer looked up almost exasperated and said, “I gotta do something other than ‘Do Nothing!’” and quickly headed toward another booth.

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