Changing your mind when necessary

Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 1:00am

In the 1950s, Seattle motorists were in an uproar over reports that small pockmarks were appearing on the windshields of cars.

Theories emerged as to the cause of these tiny indentations. For example, some believed that atomic tests by the Russians were creating fallout that was returning to earth in a glass-etching dew.

Finally, the federal government sent a team of experts to investigate the mystery. Their finding: The windshield pitting was not a new phenomenon, but rather a characteristic of a windshield's normal wear and tear.

What happened?

When people heard the news about the windshields, they began checking their own, usually from the outside of the car. From that perspective, it was easy to see the scarring (which was virtually invisible when viewed from inside the car). What had broken out in Seattle was not a bad case of "window pox," but rather an epidemic of "reverse windshield viewing." By changing their viewpoints, people discovered something that had always been there. They just hadn't seen it originally.

This illustration can be applied when businesses decide to take an "outside-in" look at their own operation. Doing so, they begin seeing things that seem out of the ordinary - things they've never seen before. But that's not because they weren't there.

Until you make a concerted effort to view your business from the outside (as your customers and prospects see it), it will be easy to overlook important details that can help you understand why some people become customers and others don't. Often times, you will discover things about your business that are impossible to see from the inside and ultimately find new ways to define the relationship between you and your customers.

So, how often do you "study your windshield while you're driving?"

Are you ready to look for the pits in the windshield of your business? Or will you stay behind the wheel and pretend they don't exist?

Filed under: City Business