There are three of them that are top of the list
1. At heart, we are not engaging people
This is something which I picked up on as part of a presentation made by Thomas Scovell at the recent Interactive Marketing Conference in Auckland. Thomas' presentation was about using the analogy of a Farmer's Market and the experience of 'tasting the fruit' to build a relationship with your customer. It made me reflect on the different market experiences I have had. I love going to markets in Europe - there is engagement. There's chatter, tasting, arguments - in fact the sale is almost incidental. My observation of NZers is that - broadly generalising to the Anglo Saxon background - we are not comfortable engaging in the physical market conversation either as buyers or sellers. Thomas put it well - the typical Kiwi response is 'I'm just browsing' - it's code for 'Leave me alone - I don't want to engage'.
This goes back to the archetype of the stoic Kiwi - they can do it all on their own. This attitude means we don't try stuff nearly as much as we like. Because we don't engage, the market seller is unlikely to hear directly how to improve their service - the lose the gift of feedback. And since they don't get feedback, when they receive it they don't know how to react - so they don't listen.
In the end - it means no-one improves as fast as they might normally.
It also means we don't engage in the broader community with more serious consequences.
This conversation on Rod's blog is instructive - there are 40+ comments on the recent acquittal of Chris Kahui. Only one comment asks the question that is the most important - what are you going to DO about it. We've settled - this is someone else's fault. Either the govenment or the police or the tight 12 or a racially defined part of our community (i.e. not us). The fact is, this is in our community and can only be resolved by community action. The action required is to engage with the broader community. More on that in another post.
2. We have low degrees of financial literacy in the part of the market we need it most
This one sits right with the above average income earners. If you ask anyone who has aper annum household income over $150k what their cashflow position is, their current target to pay off debt and their investment positions are my guess is that only 3/10 people know this information.
When I ask what the rationale behind this is, I hear that they don't need to know - they are doing well enough and you only need to worry about this if you are on a budget. I classify this group of people as those who have had it too good for too long. They (We!) have high lifestyle costs and don't worry much about tomorrow. Because of the age at which people are having kids is moving later and later this constitutes a huge spending bubble which just feeds on itself but does not produce anything. This is a fundamental issue - if you are not worried about where your next dollar is coming from, or where it is going, you end up with waste. Lots of it. Note that these people are probably deciding what to spend in private and public companies.
Dan, Ben and Rowan have picked up this issue too. My view is that this is NOT about the lack of tools - its about a lack of discipline.
3. We settle - it's good enough
This might be the underpinning factor behind Item number 2. As NZer's we settle for 'good enough'. This post from Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson, is fascinating.
While he talks about the How of WOW its interesting to note the graphic
As he points out Good is actually not Good enough - as NZers we frequently sit in Yellow and Red. It means we stand still.
So those are the three observations. You combine them and you get a culture that is standing still and is ok with it. I am not ok with it.
I am not going to tell anyone what to do - here is what I am going to do. You tell me if you see a difference.
1. Take every opportunity I can to engage with your community in any way I can. Give and receive feedback. Learn.
2. Build my own personal cashflow - start running my personal finances like a company.
3. Use the traffic light - know the expectations and always strive to exceed them Don't stop until you have - and then once I've learned that, keep on going...