Little Red Riding-Hood, Inc
“I wish you to go today to see our customer, to take her a few product samples and to ask her what she thinks of them.”
The vice-president, clearly understanding the need for listening to customers, appreciated the CEO’s willingness to delegate and was glad to go.
So, she walked gaily through the wood in the direction of the customer’s office, thinking about the plans of revamping the chief control tools – the project she was working on since she had been promoted two months ago, as a result of a major customer-reorientation of the firm.
By and bye a great hungry wolf came to her. He wished to eat her up, but as he heard the sound of axes of a self-managing team of woodmen close by, he was afraid to touch her, for fear she should cry and he should get downsized. So he only asked her where she was going. The vice-president innocently told him (for she knew about the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing) that she was going to visit her customer, who had an office on the other side of the wood. Then the Wolf made haste, and ran through the wood, and came to the office of which the vice-president had told him. The door was wide open, because the manager of the customer firm got used to never closing it since she had got rid of her secretary. She was renowned for actively bashing bureaucracy, eliminating humiliating conditions and pursuing “horizontal” management.
“Who’s there?” asked the customer firm’s manager, who was sitting at her desk, trying to develop and inspiring vision for her firm.
“I’m from Little Red Riding-Hood, Inc.,” answered the Wolf, trying to imitate the voice of the vice-president of LRRHI, “I brought you some product samples to look at.”
“Please come in,” said the manager, “Although I am busy, I always welcome our suppliers in my office, for we always buy on statistical evidence, not price.”
The cruel Wolf did so, and jumping over the desk, ate the poor customer up. Than he sat down behind the desk and pretended to be reading the latest statistical reports on quality and productivity. By and bye the vice-president of Little Red Riding-Hood, Inc., who had been thinking hard about ways of creating a corporate capacity for innovation as she came along, and so was much later that the Wolf, appeared at the door.
“Who’s there?” asked the Wolf, mimicking the customer’s voice.
“I am from Little Red Riding-Hood, Inc., dear customer,” said the vice-president.
“Please come in,” said the Wolf, “Although I am busy, I always welcome our suppliers in my office, for I appreciate the need to create good long-term relationships.”
So the vice-president came in, and the Wolf told her to put down the product samples and come and sit on a chair in front of him. When Wolf closed the book with statistical quality reports, and the vice-president saw him, she began to be rather frightened. However, she was used to the constant sense of urgency that existed in her company, so she said,
“Dear customer, what great eyes you have got!”
“All the better to search continually for problems in the system and seek ways to improve it, my dear” said the Wolf, who had had some management training and knew about Deming"s 14 points.
“And what large ears you have!” cried the vice-president.
“All the better to practice naive listening with, my dear,” said the Wolf, who had read a book or two by Tom Peters.
“And oh, what long white teeth you have!”
The Wolf tried hard to recall any recommendation of management theorists that had anything to do with teeth, but finally gave up.
“All the better to eat you with!” he growled, and, jumping from behind his desk, sprang at LRRHI’s vice president.
But just at that time the self-managing team of woodmen, who had seen the vice president go by and had followed her and who knew there was a Wolf prowling about the forest , burst into the office and downsized the Wolf.
The vice-president recognized them and thanked them informally, and made them into heroes and promised to provide them an employment guarantee and to write about them in the corporate newsletter; and the woodmen took her back to the headquarters. They liked the vice-president because her kind words had revived their pride of workmanship. The CEO did not blame her when she reported to him; as a good manager, he supported fast failures.
It was said at first that the Wolf had eaten the vice-president. Although the first reports about it were nicely “prepackaged,” they – as it often happens – contained distorted information. When the true information arrived from the front line, the shareholders were glad to hear that the Wolf had not really killed the vice-president of Little Red Riding-Hood, Inc. The news that the Customer Revolution at LRRHI is not in danger was met very positively by the markets, as indicated by a 3.5% rise of the company’s share price by the end of the same trading day.
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