Perhaps I get a little impatient. Enterprises need to take action. I expect a phone call to be answered….a letter to be replied to. Businesses need to do things.
In our family retail business….we did something new everyday and most certainly every week. Each Thursday was the “big ad” day. All the furniture stores placed their ads in the Thursday paper for Friday and Saturday (no one was open on Sundays and Fridays and Saturdays were the traditional shopping days).
In today’s economy….some folks are satisfied to play it safe….keep the status quo….do the minimum….ride it out. I don’t believe that is a good strategy.
Do something new and different.
Give customers/people a reason to respond to your business or organization.
Real growth requires always moving forward.
I graduated from The University Of Michigan in 1962. It took a course-packed year to finish the MBA in 1967 after our time in the Air Force. Most of my classmates that year had plenty of experience and were pretty focused on what they were going to do after graduation. Some returning to their companies….others like myself starting in new directions.
While I haven’t kept up with the U of M Business School, they have been very kind in sending alumni their publications. The latest is a ten year report on the Institue for Entrepreneurial Studies. This is a very impressive report on the school’s graduates developing new businesses both in the US and worldwide.
My class years ago with Prof. Waterman on the free enterprise system certainly is even more valid today with the importance of business in economic growth and in particular with entrepreneurialship. What Michigan has developed at the Institute is a catalyst for the economy as well as solidfying the role of business in the economic health of society.
PS. The report was 9×12….full color….high gloss paper….18 pages. However….no web links….email addresses. Not as cutting edge as the report implies!
From The Other Side
When I encounter new endeavors….I am looking for a new experience. When we conduct business….it’s an experience for the buyer and seller. The key for any business/organization is to create a positive experience. One that invites the customer to return and continue to do business.
Yesterday, we visited a new group. Parts of the experience were great….others not so good. While these folks are successful….perhaps they are forgetting that it is the total experience that counts. It’s not just parts of the encounter that have to be done well…..its all of the pieces put together.
I see many organizations not seeing the total experience….because they are not walking through the front door and seeing from the eyes of the customer. How often do businesses/organizations get caught up in what they do and fail to look at what they do from the outside in?
As leaders/managers….walk through the front door to see your total experience. It may suprise you that it is not as great as you think it is.
Do it Right
Growing businesses/organizations do things right! Sure they make mistakes….yet they recognize them early and make the necessary corrections. They do what they do with professionalism.
Almost on a daily basis, It seems that I encounter folks that could use a dose of professionalism.
Two recent examples:
- A medical examination firm missed two appointments….no notification. On the third try….the right person arrived even earlier than the scheduled appointment. She was the professional (and had been with the firm over 17 years).
- A request for information from two medical offices. Letters sent three weeks ago….no reply. Unprofessional!
Even more significant examples:
- US Airways Flight 1549. Captain “Sully” Sullenberger and the flight crew performed professionally to the highest order in making an emergency ditching in the Hudson River.
- Colgan Air Flight 4407. The flight crew exhibited unprofessionalism as they descended in icing conditions into Buffalo, NY. Flights into unusual conditions are acceptable when the flight crew is totally professional. This crew was not.
Business/organizations have two choices. Do it right….Do it wrong. Unfortunately, the culture of the business creates an environment where doing it wrong is OK….as long as they still have customers.
Of course….we can always choose to do business with professionals.
Great vs. Ordinary
Culture: The skills, development of a group of people.
So why are some businesses/organizations great and others ordinary? And there are far more ordinary than great! I believe it centers around the “culture” of the enterprise. It can be difficult to get your arms around culture. It’s an intangible. It’s hard to measure. Difficult to explain. Yet, it is the key principle in growing successful organizations. Culture is the glue that holds the group together….all working off the same page….committed to a clear purpose.
A professional firm spent a day last week trying to chart their future. At the end of the day, it seemed that not much was accomplished. In my estimation, even though the business has been in existence for many years, a culture of collaboration, openness, and foresight has not been created. So in the midst of challenges in their industry….it becomes very difficult to see the future.
In the past there was plenty of projects to keep this firm busy. Now, the future for growth lies in developing a new culture built around the next generation of leaders and the recognition that real success will depend on the talent (new and current) within the organization.
The reality is that not developing a forward looking….people/customer centered culture will not only create an ordinary business/organization….it will eventually lead to irrelevance and no business.
It’s all in the details
It’s the small things that are important. Businesses often overlook the little details that make the whole enterprise work better. It may be the follow-up call….or no follow up call. Or it may be the cleanliness of the business (check the bathrooms).
The small things are the determiner of a customers buying decision….and customer satisfaction.
At a recent dinner in a local restaurant….the wait person attended to the small things that made the meal enjoyable. Pleasantness….attention to detail… made our dining experience and the wait persons gratuity very nice.
Act….Rather Than Observe
How does a business get started? Any organization gets stated when someone acts on it.
Economies (businesses) move forward when we explore opportunities. Even though the current economy is going through adjustment….opportunities exist for new products/services/ways to do business. Even when an enterprise can no longer continue….there is always the opportunity for something better/different to emerge.
Often people close the doors and become obervers….when really new doors are opening and it is time to be the actor.
There are actors and there are observers.
Great businesses and organizations are created because someone is ready to act.