In our last blog post (August 5, 2011) “Want to transform your business? Then don’t rely just on traditional approaches” we identified the traditional approaches used to make businesses better, and why they are no longer enough to assure success. In this post, we’ll take a look at approaches that can totally transform companies into winners.
Transformed businesses focus energies not just on the outer dimensions mentioned in our prior blog post. They also focus on such inner issues/questions as:
- WHY we are in business – what difference are we trying to make, especially in customers’ lives, but also in our employees’ lives, in our communities, in our industry, and even in the world.
This not only makes us more likely to strike a positive chord with customers, but also with employees, as well as others in anyway connected to the business.
- PEOPLE and RELATIONSHIPS – to be more mindful of people and not treat them as cogs in the proverbial machine.
This is about strengthening relationships – empowering and inspiring people, not just guiding them or controlling them.
- HOW we operate – in terms of the VALUES we work from.
Most of the time we think of “how” in terms of processes, i.e., the actions we take, but an equally important “how” is about the kinds of energy we bring to our work, expressed for example through the values we hold.
Creating a Management System that can lead both the Outer and Inner dimensions
Existing management systems are rooted in an older mindset, and so are usually heavy on micro-managing people, controlling people and overemphasizing the outer measures of performance (revenues, production, efficiency, (current) profits). What’s needed for a company that embraces the new mindset are such things as:
- Measures of the Inner dimensions, such as employee morale and customer satisfaction.
- Finding opportunities to live and express our Purpose and Values more powerfully and profitably.
- Getting people throughout the organization looking at the whole rather than getting trapped in the details and pieces – and finding ways to make the whole more successful, not just the parts.
- Getting people (especially management) working collaboratively, versus in competition with each other.
When the two mindsets (the “outer” that emphasizes the financial and physical dimension and the “inner” one that emphasizes the human energy dimension) are in opposition, what then, you ask, should you do? First that conflict should give you a clue that the old, traditional way is not necessarily the way to go. I would suggest that you take the long view: What will be best for your company in the long run? This includes determining which pathway will strengthen your organization – the motivation and commitment levels of employees, and also strengthen relationships within your organization. It also means looking at the impact of the action being considered on customer loyalty.
All these latter measures are like “money in the bank” for you that you can draw on. An example that comes to mind is when Chip Conley’s Joie de Vivre hospitality company was experiencing a decline in customer visits after 9/11/2001, he wrote to loyal customers and asked them to consider making more of their stays with Joie de Vivre. He knew that customer goodwill was high, and that then was precisely the time to “draw” on it. The resulting increase in customer demand helped breathe new life into the company and its financial performance, getting it through a difficult economic time period.
Thus, in addition to spending energy on the traditional approaches to making companies more successful that we identified in the prior blog post, if you truly want to transform your company into a high performing business, make sure you devote time to addressing the inner dimensions of your company discussed above.
I welcome your comments on these ideas – with questions, additional insights, and even examples. Your insights will be helpful as I develop my next book about this subject.