The darnedest thing got me thinking on Christmas yesterday…
I noticed, Fleur’s mum cutting a small amount off the ends of the Christmas roast before putting it in a pan and roasting it…
I’ve actually seen Fleur do this when she cooks roasts, and I’ve always found this a little odd…
So I asked Fleur’s mum , “Why do you cut the ends off the roast?”
“Because my mother’s the best cook in the world and that is how she did it,” she replied.
Obviously this only heightened my curiosity so I asked the grandmother, “All of the ladies in your family certainly make excellent roasts, and everyone in the the family cuts the ends off the roast because that is the way they were taught. Please tell me, how does this make the roast better?”
She replied, “Make the roast better … I only did it because my pan was too short.”
OK… So you may have heard a variation this story before – It’s an oldie but a goody, and makes a very interesting point… and a good business lesson.
A lot is said in the personal development and NLP circles about the power of modeling – Identify people who produce outstanding results in a particular field of activity (i.e. cooking roasts), then model their behavioral patterns (i.e. cut the ends off) in order to produce those outstanding results for yourself.
The issue with modeling is that if you don’t understand the why behind the actions, you may be modeling something for the wrong reasons.
An example I used in my book to make a similar point is the ’25 words or less’ contests that companies regularly ‘model’ .. and the instance of a book publisher running a competition that asks readers to do the following:
“In 25 words or less, describe your favourite place to read in winter and why.”
This is an example of a business modeling a promotional tool without really understanding the why.
As I mentioned in my book, people act in line with their commitments… and it’s this ‘commitment + consistency’ principle that the “25 words or less” contests were built on.
The rationale behind this type of promotion, is that if you make people write down why they like you or your business, they will then subconsciously want to keep their word, so next time they have to choose they will select your product.
This principle means that people will feel a sense of obligation to you if they have told you they like your product or that they would find it useful. Once people make a commitment, especially in public, they will usually make an effort to stick to it.
So as you can see, the “In 25 words or less, describe your favorite place to read in winter and why.” contest does nothing to elicit a ‘commitment and consistency’ outcome in their customers minds.
They’ve done the right thing by modeling a powerful technique, but by not understanding the WHY behind it, they have completely missed the mark. – just like Fleur and her roasts.
Now, as we go into 2009, I encourage you to take a moment, and look at everything your doing (read: modeling), and ask yourself the following question:
“What was the original WHY behind this ?”