I was told this story a long time ago. A CEO of a large company gets a letter from a well-known, market leader, big removals company. ‘Dear Mr CEO: we are aware of the impending move of your headquarters from Manchester to London and we would like to offer you our first class, award winning customer focused, all-in-one, comprehensive removal services’. The CEO replied back: ‘Dear X: thanks very much for your kind offer, which we appreciate very much. I have, however, three concerns. Number one, the move is not from Manchester to London but from London to Manchester. Number two, its not impending, we have moved. Number three, you did it!’
The well-known, market leader, big removals company writes back: ‘I am sorry for the misunderstanding; you will appreciate that we are a big company and I did not know that.’
To screw up on three grounds is bad enough, but asking to be understood on the grounds of ‘we are a big company’ is downright arrogance, big time. What was missing was: ‘we are a big company and therefore we don’t know what is going on, and we should be allowed to not to know what is going on’. ‘Forgive us, it’s all down to how big/important/busy/we are’. The fact that the writer of the letter did not seem to be embarrassed, says it all.
How many times we associate ‘big’ with ‘power’ and attribute these with special permissions for minor peccadillos such as getting customer insights wrong! Amazon is a very big company, it welcomes me by my name all the time, it knows exactly who I am, what I’ve bought, what I am likely to buy and what they need to recommend to me. Amazon knows me. Well, their algorithms do.
Big, small, medium size, developed market, developing market, American, French, Italian, British, product company, services company; any can be good or bad. Good management does not recognise sizes or cultures. ‘Forgive me, we are a big company’, does not get any sympathy anymore. In fact, there it may even be a reason to avoid using their services.