What business are you in?

 I was in Chicago airport, drinking from a water fountain, and I saw this out the corner of my eye….

CaptureI was intrigued, so I squatted  down next to the pillar and read the words…

This is telling the poor unfortunate, squatting down outside a public toilet, phone charge in hand ready to plug into that outlet and try and get some charge before their flight, that their next phone really should be a Samsung. It is part of “Wall Huggers” a campaign Samsung are running to show off their ultra low power mode. See the vid below…

Squatting down in an airport next to a rare power outlet, it cleverly positions in the right place, the use of a phone and the story of another different phone that is elsewhere. A phone where you aren’t.
Samsung show here clearly that they are in the people business. Not the mobile phone business. The people business.
They MAKE mobile phones, but they SELL them to people.

But what’s this got to do with systems thinking then?
Imagine it is 1960, you open up a magazine and see two advertisements for different cars…

This one for Ford…
And this one for Volkswagen…

Can you tell the difference?

One seems to be  Victorian, the other could be produced today.

The VW advert is modern, the Ford advert isn’t.

The VW advert speaks to you, the Ford advert doesnt.

The VW advert works because it is closer to how you think, the Ford advert might have worked on your grandparents, if they’re old enough.


It doesnt matter how they are different, but what they have in common…

They both are in the people business. Just different people.

The VW advert spoke to a post-war generation who had grown up, the Ford advert spoke to their parents.

They both speak to what matters to those people though.
What matters to the parents who would buy the garish be-finned Ford was Status and that a new model was bought every single year. It looked different every year and displayed that you could afford to buy a different car every year. It was planned obsolescence.

What mattered to the children of those parents who would buy the VW was that they wouldn’t buy a new car every year because they didn’t need to show that they could. They wanted to show that they wouldn’t.


 The VW adverts traded on the fact that the shape was always the same, that nothing changed with the VW year on year, so much so they could use this ad, without even showing the car…

Ford, VW and Samsung both work on what matters to their customers.

This is their business. And it is your business too, public sector or private, making cars or phones, answering the phone or processing a claim, whatever it is that you’re doing, that’s not your business.
Your business is what matters to the customer.

This entry was posted in clarity of purpose, purpose, systems thinking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What business are you in?

  1. Great post. Great observation. Unfortunately in local government we have been giving people the ‘same line’ for too long. However, our line isn’t a well known and respected line that represents something valued. It is just a line. I would love to have even the semblance of a line that represented what our community valued about what we do.


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