‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’
— Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare 1616
In possibly the most famous Shakespearean passage of all, Juliet argues that the name of things do not matter, only what things are. The context in her case that her name of  Capulet and his of Montague, doth not matter. Yet as the play progresses we soon learn that names do in fact matter, to the point of death. This is of course because names are more powerful than the mere sense of smell, they engage the sense of perception which informs our sense of reality. 

We have a great deal to learn from the great sage, Shakespeare. The first being the novel idea of calling things as they are. Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together? Why is something sent by ship called cargo yet something sent by car called shipment? Why aren’t haemorrhoids called asteroids? Why do we call them stakeholders when they are in fact our customers?

It’s this last one that we so often get wrong, especially in the business of program, project or change management. Calling someone a stakeholder positions them as a peer or perhaps as an investor with a vested interest. Conversely, calling someone a customer, we position them as someone to whom we deliver service excellence.

Consider for a moment a person or a group you might refer to as a stakeholder, now consider how you would feel and act differently to them if they were a called a customer. I would suggest to you that in fact they already are ‘your customer’ and deserving of the service excellence that accompanies this modality of thinking. 

Perception is a powerful thing, it is our reality. It is more powerful than the smell of a rose as your customers will certainly smell out your perception towards them, as determined by the way you think about them.