Is Stevie Wonder Your Business Mentor?

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When most people think of Stevie Wonder, they think of his amazing talent musically. However, very few of us think of Stevie Wonder as a person to turn to for business advice. While Stevie Wonder may not be thought of in the same class of advice-givers as, Peter Drucker, Jack Welch, or W Edwards Deming; if one stops our toe-tapping to his music long enough to listen to his lyrics in one of his more popular songs, “Superstition,” – they would be exposed to this piece of advice:

When you believe in things you don’t understand, Then you suffer. Superstition ain’t the way.

Are you allowing superstitions to govern your business?

Are you allowing superstitions to govern your business?

I bring this up because this week includes a day that for many triggers many superstitions – Friday, the 13th.  So, this as good a time as any to consider how our superstitions influence our business decisions.  For instance:

  • Do you check your daily horoscopes each morning to “inform” your decisions for that day?  Will you refuse to schedule a meeting if the horoscope indicates that the day will include conflict, indecision, or dificulties relating to others?
  • Are there particular days where you will wear an article of clothing because it is your “lucky pair of socks/suit/broach/blouse/other?”  Do you believe that the clothing imbues you with power, wit, insight or other special skill?
  • Do you have customers that won’t meet or shop with you this Friday, because it is Friday, the 13th?

Then, there are the things that we have always accepted as “truth” – but may not have ever seen factual evidence to support our conclusions.  Things within that realm include:

  • Belief that failure to have an express lane for those with few purchases prevents that potential shopper from shopping with a retailer.  There is good “theory” behind this – but has it been recently tested?
  • The store layout must include refrigerated dairy on one side of the store, meat elsewhere, deli still elsewhere, and produce across the store.  Again, there may have been rationale to support the layout at one time.  Yet, there is now a fear that it cannot be challenged and MUST be accepted.
  • And there are additional “accepted truths” and “beliefs” about pricing, shelving, promotions, etc.

Rather than blindly assume that these or otherlong-held beliefs are facts that are beyond challenge, why not spend this Friday the 13th really assessing what governs your behavior and performance and determining if the data supports your actions.  Afterall, someone has to sometimes break a mirror, walk under a ladder, or refuse to throw salt over your shoulder, cross paths with a black cat just to see if those things really do influence outcomes.

David Zahn

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