The unfortunate Ed Milliband seems to have chosen the wrong career. In politics in the 21st century, with 24/7 screen exposure, ‘style’ puts ‘substance’ in the shade. Journalists are having a field day at his expense. Mary Ann Sieghart: “Even Ed’s friends don’t see him at home in Downing Street ……only 16% of Labour supporters agree that he looks and sounds like a possible Prime Minister.”
Matthew Norman is more explicit, if that is the right word, saying “If politics is like sex, Ed will never find the national G-spot”. He further suggested that voters decided “within 0.03 seconds of his becoming leader…. that they did not want to dive under the blankets with him”
While the G-spot is as elusive in business as elsewhere, the style over, or under, substance issue is live. Every pitch, audience and decision process is different so claiming one more important than the other is foolhardy. An outstanding solution presented indifferently can win against brilliant pitching of a moderate solution, sometimes.
However, typically in practice three or four firms of very similar ability-in the eyes of the potential client who selected them-will be in competition and the chances are that their technical solutions, the substance of their response, will be of very similar quality. Chosing the ‘best’ is not easy.
In these instances style will often be the only differentiator in the eyes-or rather the emotional responses- of those judging. And yet, so often, work continues right upto the last minute with attempts to improve the substance leaving no energy for improving style, the winning ingredient that just might hit the G-spot.