Aiming higher

Posted by: Gudrun

I am currently sitting in an airplane which brings me from Munich to London for an elective. While I should be a good girl and do the readings for the upcoming course, I instead took to my PC to issue some random musings on business. To be more concise, some musings on the responsibility of business. I am currently working with a company on improving the relationships of their salesforce with retailers. Having watched over the past days – I hate to say it – shark-like sales guys honing in on mom-and-pop stores and pushing sales, I was moved to muse about the responsibility of business (and trust me, I am not often inclined towards such inner musings).

It is incredible how often companies underestimate the need to invest in people and relationships. Now is a time to invest, truly and authentically, in employees, in partners, in our corporate responsibility and in our communities. Coming out of a recession and being faced with a disastrous situation in Japan – of which we don’t know yet the impact on the global economy – the argument and opportunity for companies to invest has never been more compelling. In addition, if you check out the research of our Marketing professor Nirmalya Kumar, you will see that trust relationship are also worthwhile in financial terms. I am hoping that each single LBS student when faced with a similar situation would find it in himself and herself to stand up and take a stance. Guys, it’s not about being part of a group, it’s about being a pace-setter. You do have a responsibility as managers, and you should be aware of it.

Which brings me back to my client: I had a row of meetings with their executives this past Friday, discussing how and at what time starting to introduce a mindset change. They recognized that the one-way relationships they have hurt their sales and hurt their dealer network. This will cost them a lot, though. We will need to go in there and reform the values, incentives, bonuses, and overall thinking of their salesforce. I do firmly believe that the effort will be worth their while at the end of the tunnel. But, LBS community, I would implore you to always aim higher, defy group thinking if necessary, and do what’s right (but make sure that it will make money – we are not stupid, after all).

5 Responses to “Aiming higher”

  1. avatar Tosin says:

    Hello Author, I find it ridiculous that companies will spend great amount of money on other aspect of the business, but will not give much attention to the people that will bring in the profit. That does not make much sense to me at all.

    Business is all about people and relationship and trust me, it is the company that takes this to heart that will reap the fortunes that are soon to come.

    Thanks for the excellent resource!

  2. avatar Gudrun says:

    Hi Tosin,

    I completely agree with you, but it’s fascinating what people do, especially when they are part of a group of people all behaving the same way. Think Stanford Prison Experiment. It’s scary at times, really. Thanks for your post, appreciate it!

  3. Nice article. In case some idle readers were led to the article because of its title “Aiming higher” or in case the author itself is interested in who aims higher, have a look at these recent findings:


    • avatar Gudrun says:

      Hello Alfredo,

      I loved, loved, loved the statistic. Would you allow me to reference it in another blog post? I think this is great. Especially the worldview of Protestants (good thing that I am Catholic and not completely at the low end ;-)).

  4. avatar pm says:

    Hello Author,
    i am completely convinced of your argument, and find the utter despair at companies creating havoc in customers life through bad customer expectations management, the marketing team pushes a great motto and what customers get in return is horrific ..take for instance how certain airlines treat their passengers (mostly say low salaried workers in the middle east who are a big number for airlines)…its almost an insult and wonder if the famed marketing community would ever step down from their bloated ego’s and make an attempt to make people feel better…which i guess would be result of an organization’s mind set change as u described.

    pm , middle east