What do OpEx consultants and hairdressers have in common?

While waiting at the hairdresser a few days ago, it occurred to me that here was a profession that actually had many parallels to that of OpEx consultants (not that they necessarily know a blow-wave from a wet-shave), but more from a customer expectation and satisfaction perspective.

For most of us, visiting the hair salon is not only a necessity but an opportunity for those around us to notice we look refreshed and confident. However, no matter our style choices, we all share that hint of distrust and nervous trepidation when we let a new hair dresser loose on our locks. Does this person know what they are doing? If not, you’re stuck with the results for a while. If they do a great job, we marvel and wonder just how this hair stylist managed to inject so much life and colour into your burned out, greying locks in such a short time – when you have tried and failed to do so yourself.

There’s nothing quite as irksome as asking your barber for a trim only to then leave the salon with barely a hair left on your head. Why don’t they listen?!

Sadly, most of us have at some stage been on the receiving end of an embarrassing cut or colour only to be presented with a bill and leave feeling angry at yourself for not saying something sooner. Worse still, you now have to deal with their legacy – justifying your peculiar locks to those around you for months to come.

Is the problem here, that the world is full on untrained, unqualified hair stylists? No. Most will have ticked all the boxes in their training and gathered enough time on the shop floor before being let loose with the razor. The key difference between a hair stylist who leaves their client feeling happy and confident with the results is often more about their approach, namely – their willingness to listen.

Yes, a good barber or stylist will recommend alternative approaches to achieving a face-flattering style but ultimately they will balance their vision for you with what you need. The man-bun may be the latest trend on the runway but is it likely to sustain the heat in a board room? Perhaps not. Do you really need that extra treatment and toner or are they out to make a quick profit. Make them explain the benefits.

Your stylist is ultimately, responsible for making you feel good and look good to those around and should be providing value for money. This too is the unspoken expectation you have of your OpEx consultants. Nobody wants to enlist the support of a CI or Lean expert who will tell you how to run your team without first considering what you have tried in the past or exploring what your ideal style of working might look like. It is imperative that, however avant-garde we consultants feel our ideas to be, we don’t arrogantly assume that our vision of ‘ideal’ will work for you or that your business is ready for it. We should also only recommend you invest a little extra here or there (e.g.  in training or coaching) when you truly need it. Finally, when we finish the job, you should feel that we’ve left you with something that not only makes you look good, but that you can manage to maintain yourself, without an arduous amount of effort.

As we all know, a hair stylist – and an OpEx consultant – that ticks all these boxes is a rare find.


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Graham Turnbull

Graham Turnbull


Throughout the years, we have developed a set of consulting, capability building and e-management solutions that enable us to tailor our approaches to our clients’ needs and help them transform their service operations.


We support organisations around the world in their pursuit of Operational Excellence, process change and business transformation, using innovation and cutting-edge technologies to transform
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Our approach is heavily based on knowledge transfer via coaching, so that your people are left with the skills to be self-sufficient at the end of our engagement.

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We have years of experience developing world class Operational Excellence and improvement skills across public and private organisations via our face-to-face and e-learning training courses.

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