I frantically looked for the hair dryer as I was already 15 minutes late to meet our team to prepare for an important presentation that morning. As I turned the place upside down, I thought—I know this nice resort provides a hair dryer in every room. Now it only takes me about 60 seconds to “style” my hair, but it does better when blow-dried.
After looking in all of the usual places in the bathroom, I continued my search in the closet and then to the rest of the room. Having exhausted all known possibilities, I picked up the phone and hit the button for housekeeping.
“How can I help you, Mr. Havens?” said a pleasant voice. “Well, I can’t locate a hair dryer. I’ve looked everywhere and I’m running late. Can you have housekeeping drop one by here in the next few minutes?”
“Sure, Mr. Havens. I’ll be glad to send one, but will you first look in the bathroom on the wall just to the left of the sink and see if the installed unit is still there?” “Uh…yes, yes it is! Please cancel that request. So sorry to have troubled you,” I replied through fits of laughter.
There it was. In the “wrong” location, but easily seen had I been less narrowly focused on only the usual ones. Crazy, but it happens. At least for me, I expect to find things in the usual places and if they aren’t, I can’t see them…even when they are right in front of me.
Today, I believe that the abundant opportunities we have in front of us are hard to see because they are different or in new places. Frankly, we are a little spoiled to our clients calling us over and over again for the same services. Now, many of our traditional services aren’t needed, have less value or are being commoditized due to our lack of distinction. New competitors are disrupting some of our relationships and services with automation and services that are more relevant to the needs of our clients.
New areas of growth like advisory, cybersecurity, succession planning, data analytics and strategic services are right in front of us. We have the relationships to have these conversations and to share these insights.
Unfortunately, due to temporary blindness or denial or legacy beliefs that relationships trump all, we are simply calling housekeeping rather than searching for new growth that is right on the wall in front of us.
I’m afraid that the fear of doing new things, not having all of the answers, risk of challenging our client’s point of view and the discipline required in learning to be anticipatory is blinding us to our greatest growth opportunities. In fact, I think these opportunities are abundant and more valuable than what we are primarily doing today. What’s worse than housekeeping informing you that the hair dryer is mounted on the wall? It might be our long-term relationship informing us they have bought a new hair dryer.