“I like your idea, it’s great. But I’m not sure, maybe not…no”

“Thank you very much engineer Miller, we appreciate your explanations and taking the time to do all this work. We like employees like you. But you know, it may be risky… and we are so successful with our current offer! So, thank you, but no”.

Eng. Miller walked out of the Management board meeting with hanging head and heavy feet. It was back in 1874 and Eng. Miller had a great idea: to revolutionize train transportation! He was having in mind the luxury boats crossing the Atlantic and wanted to offer a similar experience on rail tracks. He worked one year designing the plans for his luxury train, he went through all details: water pipes, room design, illumination, etc. He knew the management of the company cares first about return on investment, so he drafted a business case, showing the profitability of his idea.

He worked very hard, did a great plan, prepared a very strong case for the Management board… and then this answer! The company wanted to continue building these noisy, bumpy, uncomfortable wagons.

His wife realized there was something wrong seeing him entering the house after the meeting. She asked about his presentation and he replied: “they liked the idea, they were interested. But at the end they thought it’s too risky, it’s not necessary and so on. I don’t understand: it’s a great idea, it’s safe and it will be highly profitable!”. His wife asked about the final decision maker in the Management board and Eng. Miller explained “Clearly, it’s the CEO. If he says yes, the other ones will follow, same if he says no”. The last question of the wife was “…and what does the CEO dream about?”. Eng. Miller had to think a while, then he replied “He is quite a lordly person; once I heard he would like to see his name in history books!”. The wife looked at him and said “and that’s exactly what you should do!”.  They continued to talk a while.

The next day, Eng. Miller entered the CEO’s office and said “I’m so sorry, yesterday I forgot the most crucial detail in my presentation: we will call these new luxury wagons, which will revolutionize train transportation and write history, after the leader who built them; we will call them the “Pullman Wagon”. The CEO, Mr. Pullman, smiled… and the legendary Pullman wagon was born.

Do you know the aspirations of your customers/stakeholders? Does your offer align with them?