My father was a shoe tailor. I have always preferred to call him that way, because shoemaker did not really give the right impression when it came to describe what he was able to do, to design, to create. Just by putting together leather, glue, cord, beads of sweat and his mastery, he was capable of crafting the perfect shoe.
He had his models, he had his tools, his hands, and his materials. Those things were always the same. But the final results was always different, for two reasons: because the client was different, and because he was different.
Each client had her/his own peculiarities, interests, availabilities, requirements, needs, expectations, tastes, mood, feelings. My father was a real person with a huge heart and a huge pride. With his own peculiarities, interests, availabilities, requirements, needs, expectations, tastes, mood, feelings. How to pretend that this scenario would turn into replicated products?
I have enjoyed observing him while working millions of times. The most interesting ones were when he had to craft two identical pairs of shoes for the same client. Amazing how he would have achieved the same results – the two identical pairs of shoes – by working in completely different ways on the two pairs. Likewise, he was able to create two completely different pairs of shoes by following the same process and using the same tools and materials.
I have learnt from him that there is no one way. If you aim for the good, you can find one solution fitting all, and stick with it. If you aim for the best, it simply does not work. When the best means giving your clients the service or the product which is the closest to what they are really expecting to receive, you have to put yourself into it. And when I say “yourself” I mean your mastery, your sweat, your creativity, your thoughts, your energy. Mind, body, heart and soul.
Have your say on these:
How could an off-the-shelf solution perfectly address your clients’ challenges?
Credibility (established programs with very little configuration) vs adaptability (programs that are highly customized hence with less case history). If you had to choose, what would you?
What is the most important lesson that you have learnt from your father’s work?
What is a common tool that you use you feel you are able to customize at the utmost for your clients?
And let’s finish with a metaphor… If you were a tailor, what would you choose to produce: suits, shoes, ties or shirts? What would your product represent to you?