Corbyn, Customers and Competitors

The rise in popularity of Jeremy Corbyn in the summer of 2015 during the Labour Party Leadership Election campaign has many lessons for business and indeed all organisations. The first of which is of course that the end consumers, in this case the UK electorate are the ones that matter. That is, the ones with a ‘vote’ on what represents quality to them. Labour MPs thought they were the customers as did the other leadership candidates.

Oops! What a mistake to make under this particular election system.

Apart from moving away from what Labour voters wanted the party to represent, might it have been the failure of Labour to differentiate themselves from the other parties that led to General Election defeats in 2010 and 2015? Was Labour too busy looking inwards or only as far as the competition?

In the chart above any point outside the red dotted decision lines shows a significant move away from the stable performance of the system. In this case the system is the UK General Election turnout. The 2001 turnout is a significant low that called for action. Without getting into a lot more detail at the very least the ‘CEO’ seeing this should have been trying to understand what had happened, including looking at other data.

What the Jeremy Corbyn phenomenon and the turnout chart show, I suggest, is among other things that there were many people who could have been attracted to vote for Labour had it been addressing their issues. Might that have been an early warning of UKIP growth in popularity? Whether Labour had the leader and the policies to win the lost elections we will never know for sure.

Now just suppose this represented the customers, service users or consumers of your business or organisation. Would you have sailed blithely on through the clear early warning signal that something had changed? Would you have only been looking only as far as your competition when the market had moved on? Remember how Nokia and Blackberry once dominated their markets? Would you have allowed any of what Dee W. Hock called the four beasts - Ego, Envy, Avarice and Ambition – to have lulled you into a false sense of security? Numbers, used properly do not replace intuition they balance it, with luck helping to avoid trouble - like losing elections!