Words of wisdom: Jack Welch – “Deal with the world as it is…”

I thought that I’d share with you one of the great things that I learned while working for GE (over a decade ago). In a training session, Jack Welch told us:

Deal with the world as it is, not how you’d like it to be

His words didn’t hit me as being particularly profound at the time, but I have really come to appreciate their wisdom. All too often, I hear executives discuss their strategies within the context of how they “expect” the world to operate. They often believe that customers think about their company and its products more often than they actually do, that people and processes can be changed more rapidly than they can, and that their strategies translate directly into implementation plans — which all too often they don’t.

I’ve seen this problem show up a lot when situations are bad. Rather than facing tough problems, some executives find it easier to act like the issues don’t exist. Bad idea! You can’t make problems go away by pretending that they aren’t there. All that happens is that mistaken underlying assumptions end up driving bad decisions.

To apply this wisdom to customer experience, I recommend that you periodically (that’s my nice way of saying “often”) step back and ask yourself (as well as your staff): “Do we have a clear picture of what customers really want?” But don’t just move ahead if the answer is “no.” In the long run, you’ll want to put in place processes that help you answer “yes” to that question more often (see my post on Experience-Based Differentiation).

I hope that you get as much out of Jack’s words as I have.

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/brucetemkin

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