The Business Gnome

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

It's been a little over 90 days since I have been blogging under the unicorn banner of GPEStratagem and I wanted to quickly say, "Thank you for reading". I also wanted to take a moment to ground us as to what I story tell about - Specifically, I am interested in out of the box thinking as well as creative problem solving, particularly in the areas of sales and marketing; this of course can run the gamut including situation analysis, planning, problem solving, leadership, execution, process improvement, organizational behaviour and of course the customer. With all of this said, it is probably time to mention the rarely seen, but very much believed in, Business Gnome.

I've heard the business Gnome looks like this...

I've heard the business Gnome looks like this...

A very dear friend of mine, who I hope is finding great fun and adventure at the moment, introduced me to the Business Gnome a number of years back. For those of you who are not familiar with the Business Gnome, it is a genus of "mystical individuals" who get things done when people don't think of it, assume it'll will get done, don't want to do it, or don't know how. The Business Gnome falls into a number of different species, such as the "Technology" Gnome, the "Marketing" Gnome, the "Clean up your mess" Gnome (which has a domesticated cousin), and so on. Business Gnomes, like "tribbles" (yes a Star Trek reference), are cute and cuddly, but if they get into the machinery they will totally mess up effective execution and most definitely impact your customer's experience.

Let me offer you an example of what I am talking about - A small company was sponsoring an event which involved developing a process to sell the event tickets online and went live with it. It turned out when a customer went to order a ticket, the only option available in the drop down menu was zero. After that was fixed, it became apparent that there was no electronic ticket that was actually sent to the person who had ordered... just a receipt indicating that their credit card had been charged. In all of this, it is obvious that someone looked to the "Technology" Gnome to ensure it all worked when they set up the process. It was a good thing the company was so customer oriented as they caught this with the first order and fixed the situation. They went on to have an amazing event and the Technology Gnome was conspicuously absent. 

As you can appreciate there are two camps regarding the existence of the Business Gnome and I don't want to spend time debating their actual existence but instead spend a little time on the "people and company cultures" that do believe in them... or at least act as if they do. 

People (and cultures) that don't take the customer's perspective in what they do are big believers in the Business Gnome, and look to them to ensure that all of their initiatives and processes work smoothly. To this point let's use the situation with the event tickets above - If, before they went live with the ordering system, someone had said, "Let me pretend I am a customer and see how this works", they would have discovered very quickly that they had some "gaps" in their process, and ultimately in the customer experience. Those who think like customers don't believe in Gnomes.

There also seems to be a correlation with people not knowing the systems and processes that they use and their belief in Gnomes. Many a time I have seen a brilliant idea come crashing into reality because of the limitations of the systems and processes that are available... somewhere, somehow, someone must have had faith in the "Operations" Gnome to make it all work. As an extension to this, there are people who are miscast for the task ahead but "do it anyway", without soliciting help and the resources needed to make it happen. They must be big believers in the "Hope and a Prayer" Gnome. 

And lastly, the biggest playground for Business Gnomes that I have seen is where there is a culture of assumption... Assuming it will get done, assuming the resources are there, assuming the skill sets are in place, assuming the customer thinks like you, assuming there is someone to pick up after you, assuming the system will do what you want it to do, assuming your pilot project will scale - Hopefully you get my drift, and if you find too much assumption going on, you most likely have a deep seeded belief in Gnomes. 

Of course, encouraging Personal Leadership, Ownership and an understanding that everything is connected can create a culture of accountability... dispelling the mythology of the Business Gnome. 

Let me know if you have seen a Gnome, and do remember that "Car Key" Gnomes are very real.