Get Dirty

By Chris Jaques, CEO of Transformation: The Growth Business @

Have you ever heard of a guy called Sydney Yoshida?

I thought not. No-one has.

But a while ago, he discovered something remarkable.

Yoshida-san was commissioned to improve the performance of a large Japanese automotive firm, across its operations in Asia and America.

As a part of the assignment, he analysed the challenges for performance-improvement – and how these challenges could be overcome

And what he discovered was extraordinary:

Senior Management Knows Nothing.

Yoshida-san found that the most senior people in the company knew the least about the company’s real issues.


Because senior management spend all their days in meetings – discussing strategies, plans, research, data and budgets.

But they have no clue what’s actually happening on the front-line – the real service and sales issues, the customer frustrations, wants and needs.

Middle-Management Are Clueless.

A company’s middle-managers may be closer to the front-line – but they’re equally clueless about what happens there.

While they may know all the data, they have no idea about the details: what really matters to customers and the teams that serve them.

‘The Iceberg of Ignorance’.

What Yoshida-san found was stark:

4% of a company’s real issues are known to senior management

9% are known to middle management


74% of a company’s issues are known to the supervisors of front-line staff

A full 100% are known by front-line staff themselves

Yoshida called this pattern ‘

The Iceberg of Ignorance’ – and its conclusion is clear:

If you don’t keep close to the front-line, you don’t know what you’re doing.

Marketers Live In Ivory Towers.

Marketers are the worst.

They spend almost all their time in offices, meeting rooms or Zoom – agonising over research, data, strategy, powerpoint, media, creative and content.

But they rarely ‘get dirty’.

They don’t spend days interviewing customers, customer service teams, sales people or operations staff.

They don’t take time to work on the front-line or study the daily reality of the customer journey.

As a result, they seldom know how and why purchases really take place – or don’t.

Dirt Is The New Gold.

Let me share an example.

One company asked us to reverse a decline in market share.

They’d done loads of research, increased their marketing budget, launched big promotions and a new campaign – yet market share was declining.

So here’s what we did:

We interviewed their front-line people.

We worked in sales and customer-service. We interviewed customers.

We conducted ‘mystery shopping’.

We tracked their CX, online and offline.

And then we told them to cancel all their advertising and save the money. Because the problem was nothing to do with Brand, Promotions or Awareness. (It seldom is).

The problem lay in their customer journey.

Their customers were simply moving in the wrong directions, to the wrong places at the wrong times.

So we redesigned the customer journey, improved customer experience – and transformed their business.

In the next quarter, revenues grew by +105% and profit by +340%.

Dirt became gold.

If you’d like to know how – just get in touch: [email protected]

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