Whether we’re working globally or locally, it’s easy to focus on the familiar — to bring your own experience to your assessment of brands and ideas. I’m listening now to Minnesota Public Radio’s Midmorning show in their in-depth discussion of the long-anticipated Delta – Northwest Airlines merger … good discussion, worth checking out. What I find interesting is how clearly the US market is nearly irrelevant in this merger. Delta and Northwest have largely complementary strengths in the United States, and they’ll look for some costs savings here.
But the hard truth that the experts are trying to get across is that neither the US market nor the coach flyer is very imporant here. What’s important is how the airlines compete for first-class business travelers and transoceanic service, particularly to Europe. This means that for most of us, there will be no improvement to customer service, no additional US flights (more likely fewer), and no lower costs (more likely greater).
It’s hard for many of us to get our minds around this truly global point of view. As consumers and the public, we want to matter. But in global markets, our opportunities are in translating our brands — and the value behind them — to people far from our day-to-day experience.
Being open minded means more than listening to other points of view — it means understanding your customer base or public well enough to recognize when the right answer may be utterly foreign to your personal experience or taste. The challenge that we’re seeing more and more often in this networked world, is how to effectively give up a little control and open up to those opportunities.