Smoking, Services, and Dataviews

I want to introduce a new industry blog by my TPSA colleague Bo DiMuccio, but to explain how important it is, I need to provide some context.

Earlier this week, I spoke at an executive forum in Boston. At the event, I had the opportunity to hear David Maister deliver a keynote. He covered classic content from his book Strategy and the Fat Smoker. The main premise is that everyone knows one of the secrets to a long, healthy life is to not smoke. Despite this common knowledge, millions of people struggle to quit smoking every day. David argues that the trade off of between short term gratification and potential long term benefit is just too great to for some people to quit smoking. He has found, in his research, the same dynamic applies to professional service firms. In his years of writing and consulting, David had documented many of the healthy practices that traditional professional service firms should be pursuing.  Yet, many firms remain “sick.” Why? The same reason the tobacco industry has not vanished—despite all of the well documented research itemizing the negative impact of tobacco on health.   

The reality David describes (which I believe is absolutely accurate) can be a tad disheartening for services leaders. Yet, I believe not all trends are negative. Staying with our observations on smoking, think back just twenty-five years ago. Smoking was a practice accepted in the workplace. My father tells the story of how hard it was to quit smoking when he was surrounded all day by co-workers that smoked. Think back just ten years ago, when smoking was permitted in all public restaurants.  What brought about dramatic changes to make these environments smoke free? Data, research, and understanding. The more the medical professional and the general public understood about the effects of second hand smoke, the easier it became to drive significant institutional change. In essence, knowledge is indeed power to create meaningful change.

So why ramble on regarding the changing attitudes of smoking in public places? Because I believe many technology service organizations lack the data required to create change. If service leaders are not sure a specific practice will benefit the service organization, they may not pursue it. If executives are unsure service offerings really make a difference in customer success, they may not fund the development of the offerings. Hard data proving certain practices drive success can create a sense of urgency. Hard data (smoking will kill you) can help organizations maintain their determination.

Bo DiMuccio heads up research for TPSA. This month, he has started his own blog titled “DiMuccio’s Data Views”. In his blog, Bo presents salient and current data points for technology services businesses. The type of data you have seen referenced in this blog. Together, Bo and I work to provide a one-two punch for services organizations. I spend my energy framing critical industry trends. Bo spends his energy validating the strength and specific dynamics of those trends.   


One Response to “Smoking, Services, and Dataviews”

  1. Aho Says:

    Very good post.

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