Greetings. They decided not to tell me that they were changing the very nature of our relationship. Instead they let me figure it out for myself. I might even imagine that they thought I would never notice given the flow of my slightly oversubscribed life. But on a typical weekday morning over breakfast and the Wall Street Journal, it hit me like a gigantic meteor crashing into our driveway. Actually that might be a bit over-dramatic. But I did notice finally. And painfully. That a partner I had come to rely on had been less than truthful with our relationship.
They might have been honest and announced the change. Oh, I know, it's never a great idea to tell people that you're less interested in them, or that you are putting less into your relationship, or that you are hiding important information from them, or that you have decided to give some of what you always gave them to someone new and different. That you value their relationship less than you did before.
7.8% less to be precise.
Barely noticeable some people might say. And besides, it's the exact same change that their leading competitor made to all of its relationships. But as a result, I for one will never be able to trust them completely. Will view each interaction moving forward with greater suspicion and doubt. Will be forced to wonder why I invested so much time and energy in my relationship with Florida's Natural orange juice. Why I took them in and made them such an important part of my life.
Yet if they'd tried, they might have made me understand the necessity of changing the game. They might have even had some fun by openly and honestly promoting the change and adorning their cartons and ads with the following ideas…
– "New Smaller Size"
– "Less Great Taste for the Same Great Price"
– "Fewer Calories and Less Stomach Acid"
– "New Easier to Hold Carton"
– "Florida's Natural–Your Partner in Losing Weight"
– "Fits More Easily on Your Refrigerator Shelf"
– "Innovation–We've Reinvented the Half Gallon"
– "Savor the Difference (Because You Don't Get as Much)"
– "It's Lighter–So Why Not Buy a Case"
– "We're So Excited, We Tried to Hide It"
– "Now With Only Seven Servings"
– "Helping You to Drink More Responsibly"
– "A New Size for a New Generation"
Or to simply quote the renowned architect Mies van der Rohe: "Less is More."
Sometimes less is more. Smaller and lighter laptop computers are one excellent example. Or cars that get much better fuel economy without reducing safety or acceleration. But often it's not. And orange juice is a case in point–because less is actually less. So while Florida's Natural is not the only product that has given me less than I bargained for, it has caused me to wonder about some of the other relationships I hold dear. I've even begun wondering if the holes in my Cheerios were getting larger.
We win in business and in life when we are open and honest with those we have relationships with. And when we never forget that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
(Which suggests a possible bumper sticker: DON'T MESS WITH BREAKFAST!)