5 years ago, business was all about authenticity. It still is. But there has been a natural evolution from authenticity to COMPATIBILITY.
We are wired psychologically to make choices based on compatibility. As children, we made friends based on having things ‘in common’. As we got older we chose a girlfriend or boyfriend based on similar principles.
And now as adults we make subconscious choices, again based on compatibility.
- We choose foods that are compatible with our constitution.
- We choose a restaurant that agrees with our tastes. Some like restaurants buzzing with activity while others like a quite ambience.
- We choose friends who like the same sport or the same team.
- We choose a café not just on its ability to make a coffee but one that serves coffee, the way we like it.
- We choose a doctor not because of their ability but their manner.
- We choose a school that is compatible with our children’s personality. I know some friends who send their children to different schools because of this. And it’s smart to do so.
Therefore, it’s not just about the ability of the person or the product to deliver what you want. It’s about their compatibility with you.
AND things go wrong when we ignore compatibility and make choices based just on ability.
- We may choose a restaurant and have a bad experience.
- We may choose a school that our children hate and perform poorly in.
- We may choose a sport that injures us because we are just not right for it.
- Or worse, we may choose the wrong life partner and end up getting a divorce.
So we cannot ignore compatibility. We do so at a great cost.
In business it’s no different. A product or a supplier must have the ability; that’s a given. Things start to go wrong, however, when we make commercial decisions based just on ability. If we develop a product and ignore its compatibility with the target market, it flops. If we choose a supplier that ticks all the right boxes, but their culture is not compatible with ours, the relationship will be negative and the customer will suffer.
So what is compatibility in business? Ultimately it’s about the people you’re dealing with. Do you like your customers or your suppliers? When push comes to shove, that’s what counts. You can face any challenge and meet any objective when you work with someone you like. If you are progressive, then ask are they progressive like me?
Therefore, compatibility is not about being right or wrong but what suits your business requirements. For example:
- If you have a local service model, does your supplier support you locally or are their activities centralised away from your local market?
- If you have national requirements, does your service provider have national coverage?
- If you are focused on automation, does your service provider have capabilities to integrate with your supply chain or does the process fall into a manual queue when it reaches your supplier?
- If you are focused on a personal customer experience, does your service provider have staff that are reachable and available?
- Do you and your supplier have a similar risk appetite?
- Do you and your supplier have a similar growth appetite?
- Is your service provider’s model based on building relationships and partnerships or are they transactionally focused?
When you select your key service provider, you will likely want to maintain that relationship for the long term. Changing key suppliers can be very complicated, time consuming and expensive, so it is important to consider your compatibility in the long term.