The room was slowly filling up with the employees. One after the other they took their seats and didn’t look too pleased: the speech that I was about to be holding did interrupt the longed-for transition from their dinner to a well deserved drink at the bar! So this left me with the task to ensure that those snaring away during my talk would not animate the others to follow suit.


Those who are often standing in front of audiences just coming from a lunch or dinner know how difficult it is to keep these awake. That’s why event organizers tend to book entertaining and lively acts to overcome the ‘dip’ after the lunch or dinner break. This to prevent the attendees from falling asleep or leaving the show altogether, in order to join the others for a beer.
Which raises the question, whether my talk was intended to be ‘entertaining’, or whether it was needed as a valid source of information and important learning. The fact that all stayed and only few fell asleep made me conclude that is was the latter. Because what kept the audience awake was not (only) my style of presenting, but foremost the irritation that the topic of my speech – and the statement it made – caused with them: it was about themselves and about their future.

Afterwards many – some less, others more –  were doubting, whether they were able to follow up on the call I made in the speech in their own job: to focus all they do on the human. No, not only on those humans they see in the mirror every morning, or during the day at the office, but on those humans who want to use what they (the employees) produce, even against a payment – on the customers!  If they wouldn’t do this properly, according to my statement, they would all loose their jobs! Yes, with this statement I had all of the audience fully awake again – those bank employees.

You would assume that also bankers and insurance brokers would exactly know when their customers have a ‘dip’, that they know what their customers really need. But it repeatedly astonishes me how lopsided their approach actually is: it’s restricted to the factual side of their trade, the rational side of business, measurable items and calculated considerations.
To consider a contrary approach, using trust-based considerations, the abstract sides of the trade, the emotional side of business and non-tangible items like feelings, does not seem to be part of traditional business doing. Though it is commonly known that one ‘gets’ the customer best by developing an ‘emotional’ knowledge that leads to better solutions, the tendency remains to stick to rational knowledge, and to think rationally.
All these employees seem to be captured in an industrial thinking, a thinking that is hard to escape from – like from a ‘dip’ after lunch.

Struck by the impact of the statement, one employee in the audience wanted to have an example of how this ‘other’ thinking could have an influence on the banking business: if I could make a proposal? Well, I could, based on my own experience. My proposal was as follows: “A bank only thinks of itself when it offers me a business account: it offers me that what they can do, and not what I need. It hopes that this is the same, but it isn’t. What I need, for instance as an independent consultant, is to have all eyes on that what I can do really well: on my core business. Things that are not my core business are banking, accounting, finances, tax declarations, legal issues, insurances and so on.  And what does take away my precious time and disturbs me in focussing on my core-business most of the time? Exactly those issues!”

Why did my bank not take this up for me? It could have done the accounting (is all online), could have send the invoices and pay the taxes (mostly online), book and file my expenses (I use their credit card anyway), do the tax declaration on time (also done online) and do a legal check on my contracts (part of their core business). For all of these activities (which predominantly can be done fully automated) I would have granted them 5% of my turnover – talking about business…!

So, where was the bank? Don’t say they were taking a nap because of an afternoon dip!
Or did they got stuck in a crisis?