CPQ and the Ancient Art of Kintsugi

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One of the things I love about music, is the way it can teach you about topics you never thought you’d ever need to know anything about. I’m a fan of the band Death Cab for Cutie and their 2015 album is curiously titled Kintsugi. It’s a cool sounding word, but what does it mean?

Kintsugi, also known as Kintsukuroi, is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise (and yes, I did take this almost directly from Wikipedia, although I’d like to claim I knew about it beforehand).

So why, I’m sure youre wondering, does Kintsugi have relevance on a blog that is mostly about the somewhat less artistic practice of CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) systems and sales automation?

In my mind, the link is clear. When we see CPQ tools and sales systems that evolve over time to meet the needs of their users and the changing business landscape of the organisation, we see a deeper beauty. Sometimes this may mean that we see developments that might seem too odd to someone looking at the system as a whole for the first time, with functionality grafted on. Often, we see more elegance in a system as repairs are carried out, and as it adapts to meet the emerging needs of those who use it.

A purist might say that the system should have been designed more perfectly in the first place. Perhaps more time should be taken on requirements before the system is built, but in our experience a long, drawn-out design process often just creates a design for a solution that looks good (and generally very detailed) on paper, but doesn’t take into account the subtleties of process in an organisation that have themselves evolved over time. It may not do justice to the tribal knowledge built up in a company over time, or the relationships between individuals. The result is a system that meets the brief, but pleases no one, and a system that is technically correct, but fails to deliver the promised benefits.

From our point of view its far better to have a cloud based CPQ system that increases its beauty and relevance with each adjustment, and where the cracks are caused by missing functionality that users never knew they needed until they used the system in anger. The gold, silver and platinum improvements can be a reminder to the people using the system that they’ve had a say in its development and can enhance the systems adoption just as Kintsugi enhances the broken pottery.

This philosophy was a driving force in our decision to launch a full managed service for our clients, where we can help CPQ users continue to evolve their systems over their lifetime, taking care of all changes and fixes needed, in a spirit of continuous improvement, with the on-going goal of making the system more beautiful with every change.

“CPQ and the Ancient Art of Kintsugi” was written by Walpole Partnership’s Founder and MD, Andy Pieroux.

If you want to learn more about how implementing CPQ as a Managed Service can help your business sell more and sell faster, check out our Managed Service Brochure and book a free 90-minute consultation with one of our experts.

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