Do you know the Snowblower
Effect? Well lucky you, because I didn’t know it until some weeks ago… Heavy
snowfalls were crossing Austria, bringing lots and lots of snow to the Alpine
regions with all the adverse effects of roadblocks because of avalanches, people
locked in remote valleys not being able to get to work, and then again with
kids happily building a whole family of snowmen. On a personal level, it mainly
meant getting up even earlier in the morning, grab the snow shovel and clear
the snow out of the driveway.
Now it happened that I had been having a chitchat with one of my friends. Talking about this and that we finally arrived at the tons of snow that each of us had been clearing out of driveways twice a day. And then it happened: The Snowblower Effect! My friend just said, “You know what, man? I am going to buy a snowblower right now! I don’t care about the costs, I just want it now and I am fed up with the shoveling stuff!”
I had spent a few days thinking about my friend's decision and why it was so easy for him to spend lots of money just to save work. Finally, I understood ... He had obviously seen the personal benefit that investing in a snowblower would result in 15 minutes more sleep in the morning and – more importantly – rest his aching back. He was ready to spend the money because he recognized a personal advantage. That's what I call the Snowblower Effect.
A few days later, our team had a great presentation at one of our potential customer to showcase what was possible with the investment into modern software: process optimization software that reduces employees' day-to-day work and optimizes processes and reduces costs. Certainly, you have already guessed it … the digital transformation stuff! You have probably already guessed the customer’s feedback too. Right… “Very interesting, we see the huge potential. We will need to discuss it internally and come back to you soon.” The customer reverted. Not soon, but we received an answer:
“…Sorry for the late reply, you know, we have so much daily workload … We are convinced that we have to work on our software systems. So, a next step will be the formation of strategic innovation team. Then we start the strategy development process, which will finally be discussed with our management. Hope we can convince them too… We will come back to you once we have completed the strategy development process.”
Now where is the Snowblower effect in this one? We really tried to figure it out and for sure the first question we discussed was about our performance. Were we really able to convince the customer of the benefits? How can we improve our presentations at potential customers to be even more convincing?
Next to continuously improving the way we approach customers, we also discussed what could be the reason for not generating the Snowblower Effect? While it is so easy to spend your money privately to save you just some minutes of work – professionally one would initiate working groups, start strategic discussions, and so on. Implementing an easy-going software project that saves you 1 hour of work every day and money can be extremely difficult it seems. Obviously, decision-making must be discussed in context of the organizational structures of companies. In fact, in today's organizations, groups, teams or commissions make the majority of decisions. The bigger team wins when pulling the rope – because a larger number of people have more pulling power. But is that also true when it comes to decision-making processes instead of rope pulling?
I will leave this question as food for thoughts, but I cannot resist repeating the story that I had once heard when a management consultant spoke about the development of Nokia and their allegedly not-existing competition with Apple’s iPhone. At that time, Nokia was selling 230 million phones, Apple was selling 1 million phones. When the first iPhone was closely scrutinized during a Board meeting, the Chairman of the Board would actually laugh smugly about the colored display, “What a nonsense, the thing is only on the ear anyway…” Well … I am sure you all know the end of the story.
Sometimes, it is better to work on quick solutions that to wait for others to be quicker. Just think about the Snowblower and the little work it will save you!