Services are the verbs of the marketplace, and I'm a service provider. Now look around the room you're in. Do you see many services? Probably not, but I'll bet you see an awful lot of products. Products are the nouns of the marketplace, and they tend to attract a lot of attention.
Here are some examples:
- Alarm clock (noun) versus wake-up service (verb)
- Car (noun) versus transportation service (verb)
- Doctor (noun) versus medical service (verb)
As this example illustrates, it is easy to believe that verbs are verbs and nouns are nouns, and never the twain shall meet. We act as if that is true. But I invite you to consider another possibility – that one man's verb is another man's noun. Put differently, products and services are two sides of the same coin. Had I come to the CEO offering a solution (just needing a little bit of problem-solving), things might have been different. Ditto had he been open to problem-solving (so long as it resulted in a solution).
Recognizing the product in a service (and vice-versa) can make it easier to satisfy needs, because it exposes more common ground in an apparent conflict. Desires and offerings are the two faces of gift-giving, so you can see how much common ground there is to work with.
As a leader, you are an influential participant in many relationships. Changes in your perspective can have dramatically positive consequences. So why not go for it?
You can make this technique more fun by playing a little game with yourself. Keep a special coin in your pocket. As you go about your work day, be on the lookout for requests and offers. When you hear one, flip the coin. Heads, you do nothing. Tails, you think of the product as a service or the service as a product. Let me know how it goes!