How to Create an Organization That Thrives Forever
Who do you love more, your customer or your products? If you are like many other business leaders, you have spent a considerable amount of time developing a product that will create success. Having an excellent product is important, but what happens when a market disrupter takes your customer away because their branding message is more compelling? The emotional connection you have with your customer is the cement that bonds the relationship.
Visionary leaders have clarity about what contribution they want to make in serving others. They have clearly defined their purpose and are driven to provide innovative new products that create raving fans of their brand. These leaders are committed to making the lives of their customers better and have strong communities that spread the word about them. The product offering comes second because their love for the customer is first.
Love of Product -VS- Love of Customer
Blockbuster Video. They were purpose-driven but refused to deliver entertainment to their customers the way that they wanted to be served. As we all know, Blockbuster decided not to innovate, and this allowed the disrupters in the entertainment industry to put them out of business.
Netflix. This entertainment company conspired to put its own DVD model of delivering movies out of business. Their contribution was to make the lives of their customers better by streaming entertainment that the customer wanted. They were able to pivot their business model and became a big disrupter that drove video stores out of business. The focus was not the delivery method of the product but the commitment to the relationship with the member.
One of my careers was in the financial services industry. The bank I worked for at the time lost more customers in a two-consecutive-year period than they were boarding. They believed that, instead of finding new ways to create a community with their clients, they would increase revenues by charging more fees, especially when the dissatisfied customer left. It was sad to see that a once purpose-driven organization morphed in a brand that lost their purpose. This mindset trickled down to every employee in the company. Sales staff had mixed messages about the mission, and the customer service department was marginal at best.
I saw an opportunity to create my own tribe and left the bank. I found another vendor to serve similar lines of products. My mindset was about doing what was right for the client, and the product would reveal itself. The results were staggering. Seventeen years later, I am still being paid on the clients that transitioned with me.
THREE PRINCIPLES THAT HELP CREATE A THRIVING CULTURE
1. BE A STUDENT
Have the mindset that you will continuously learn about your customer. Know what drives them. Know how they like to be communicated with. Learn how you can make their lives better. Make a decision not to criticize what you don’t understand. If you don’t understand…
2. BE AWARE OF THE DISRUPTERS
Keep your eyes wide open and listen to the outsiders. Closed-minded leaders aren’t able to sustain the mission because the culture conspires to maintain the status quo.
3. ASK BETTER QUESTIONS
(a) Monitor your attitude. Ask yourself these questions: What is your initial response when new ideas come in? When was the last time you embraced a new idea? When was the last time you weren’t sure about an idea but tried it anyway?
(b) Ask yourself what makes your organization uniquely different? Would you be missed in a crowded market?
Love your customer more than your product offering. When your customers see that you care about them, they will want to be part of the tribe. Then…
When you think you’ve found a foothold, lead fearlessly. Find a way to lead the way and innovate. Become able to ride the wave of disruption when it arises. You will have a huge advantage in the marketplace when you fall in love with your customers and deliver what makes their lives better.
In day-to-day business operations, there can be blind spots in the activities needed for completing a mission successfully. Sometimes it takes an outsider’s viewpoint to see the obvious. Seek out the advice of an expert that doesn’t have a bias about your organization. Consider partnering with Eric Miller.