When I was an undergraduate Peter Gabriel released a song I quite enjoyed entitled “Games Without Frontiers.” Those of you who know the tune will recall that immediately after the refrain, he hauntingly sings: “She’s so funky, yeah.”
Or so I thought.
Turns out, he’s singing “jeux sans frontieres”–“games without frontiers” in French.
Beyond acknowledging the rampant cluelessness I exhibited turning my college days, I take away at least two main messages from this experience.
First, it’s hard to truly understand something when you don’t speak the language. Second, all too often we hear what we want to hear.
Think about your business. Have you concluded you have a sound strategy when you barely speak your customers’ language? Are you clued into what the data is really saying? Have you stayed the course because doing anything else might force you to realize you might have it wrong?
Misunderstanding the words to a song because you didn’t bother to learn another foreign language is a bit embarrassing, but ultimately completely harmless.
Getting your strategy wrong because you failed to study the changing market dynamics and never learned to speak your customers’ language is a different matter entirely.
What song’s playing in your head these days? Are you sure you have it right?