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(7 minute read.)

Everybody say 'yay'.

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Business is often considered an impersonal activity… governed by objective numbers, financial ratios, and so-called 'business fundamentals'.

And along with being told 'it has to be this way', otherwise-inappropriate behavior ('nothing personal, just business') is acceptable and sometimes expected/accepted.

I think any suggestion it has to be this way is tosh.

The core of any business is simple: You sell, I buy.

Do we always do this rationally, based on impersonal factors like price, value, or features?


We sometimes (and usually prefer to) buy from those we enjoy dealing with… even if they're not the cheapest, or maybe even the best.

Business is a series of interactions between humans.

And, despite the increasing role of automation and AI, we shouldn't forget that emotions are important, and business is often deeply personal.

'People don't have relationships with websites, they have relationships with other people.'

I often buy stuff from Amazon. It's perfunctory… efficient, effective.

Other than transactions, I (we) have no relationship with them.

Nor do I (we), or they, want one.

There's nothing 'special'. No sense of loyalty, no engagement.

And it's understood that if someone else has better price/convenience/service, we'll be spending there instead.

Conversely, there's places where we like to shop. We enjoy it, and become familiar (sometimes friendly) with the staff.

Is it nuts to think that businesses can have 'fans'… similar to celebs and rock bands?

No, it isn't.

A vital element in the success (or not) of any business is 'engagement'… just how well everybody interacts with each other.

Over the years (I'm getting old now, please allow me a little self-indulgence), I've had projects where we've done 'engagement' very well (and also some where we just didn't get it together).

And without wishing to wander too far into dull-old-fart reminiscing on yesterday territory, there's one notable example from twenty-or-so years ago… in the much-earlier days of the web when things were very different, and the enthusiastic sense of excitement hadn't been dulled by the continuing onslaught of life online.

I've previously written a piece about this, which in adapted form has been used in talks, stump-speeches, and when advising clients in consulting work (the stuff I used to do and from which I earned proper money, before stopping to do things which I enjoy more but doesn't pay me much).


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