A Software Salesperson Being Honest
The much-maligned software salespeople telling the truth? It was bound to happen. Mark Kuta, a former software salesperson, is peddling a book. In an online interview about the book:
Describe one of your case studies you used in the book.
The beginning of the book describes a case where I felt like that guy in “Catch Me If You Can,” you know, the guy that pretends to be a doctor, or an airline pilot, etc. I was pretending to be a lean manufacturing consultant when I was actually a software salesperson. While not understanding anything about brake presses, kanban's or TAKT time, I used the methods I outlined to close the deal with a bunch of Ivy League MBA's.
Wow, as a “not pretend” lean manufacturing consultant, that paragraph REALLY rubs me the wrong way. OK, I shouldn't disparage all technology salespeople. But here you have a guy sort of admitting he was pulling a fast one on his customers (“C-level” executives who bought $94 million worth of software from him). Does this speak more poorly about the salesman or the buyer?
Pulling a fast one on fancy MBA's…. way to go. I'm sure the MBA's might not have known anything about kanban or takt time either (so shame on them). If they believe the “siren song,” then shame on the buyer, but you'd think sellers have some obligation to be ethical as well.
The phrase “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) is popular for a reason. If someone is selling you software, automation, or any technology that is positioned as a “silver bullet,” don't believe it. There are no easy answers in life. Don't expect Lean to be an easy answer either. Toyota's success comes from dedication to the boring stuff — developing great processes and developing people. Toyota's not successful because they have better technology. I worked at a GM plant that had the SAME technology as a Toyota plant, yet productivity was HALF of Toyota's — because we hadn't yet shifted to a Lean management system.
Kuta's book, aimed at salespeople those building their “personal brands” (I hope he gives credit to Tom Peters in his book), says you should “think like a CEO.” Does that include being tricked by technology salespeople into paying “more than list price,” as his website points out. How dumb do you have to be to pay MORE than the listed software prices. Yes, that is unheard of. Until now.