Why do meetings and reports often come down to numbers? And should they?
Most MBA’s enjoy talking about their company’s success in terms of numbers and equations – if we reduce cost and sell more stuff, we make more money. Conversations about numbers are safer and more comfortable because MBA’s are trained to discuss numbers. They chose to study numbers, for years. They are passionate about numbers, and charts about numbers, and equations about numbers. It’s really a “numbers game,” right?
And unless a discussion is lead by an engineer, product/service developer, or entrepreneur/company founder, there is a very good chance the MBAs in the room would prefer to stick with what they know and what they like – numbers. Only a select few would prefer to talk about what they don’t really know – products and services and the people who buy them. There are three motivating factors: disinterest, fear/lack of expertise, and time. “I’m bored, I don’t understand and don’t care to understand, were running out of time – enough about the people and the product, let’s talk about the numbers!”
Here’s the rub: Businesses don’t produce and sell numbers. Rather, businesses produce and sell products and services.
Obviously, talking about what has worked and generated good numbers in the past can help you replicate what may work in the future, as long as the future stays constant. But in the age of big data, numbers have become a distraction that consume valuable working sessions, provide little traction in “excellence,” and certainly don’t capture the totality of the future playing field.
As a PE leader or company leader, who are you working to satisfy? Is it your “shareholder” or your customer – the person who actually who buys your product or service?
If you have customers, people who want to buy your product/service at a fair price, will you always have an investor? Or if you have an investor, will you always have people who want to buy your product/service? There are plenty of stories of highly capitalized companies that, in the end, failed. The safer bet is to focus on your customer and the money will follow.
Remember, people don’t buy numbers. They are not buying your product because you had good numbers this quarter.
People buy BRANDS that provide products and services. Actually, people buy the BELIEF that the BRAND and its product will exceed their wants and needs. If their belief holds true, post-purchase, you will create a repeat customer. If their belief does not hold true, they will reevaluate their BELIEF in your BRAND and compare your BRAND to the competitions.
Hire CEO’s that are passionate people, born leaders, like the product or service, care enough about their industry to master it, and live for excellence. Let the CFO’s handle the numbers.