Social Company Principles
Values give a perspective…
It is not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are- Roy Disney
Company values have moved up the business agenda. And rightly so. Values will get you somewhere. After all, values are “the points of departures for behaviour”; create frameworks; And steer strategy, policy and action in interaction with the environment. All of which requires worthy behaviour from us. This is often done instinctually, usually a sign of authenticity. If they are made explicit, then that is usually at the level of the obligatory mission-statement. There, high-flown moral notions like reliability and responsibility are sported. That is great, but it does have a high state-the-obvious content and a wide general validity.
In order to be able to react adequately to the rapidly changing environment and its expectations with regard to our behaviour and attitude, we (also) have a (greater) need for a practical vision. This vision contains insights that can be interpreted in concrete behavioural points of departure and in attitudes that help us to be adequately enterprising. Mind you, this is not only about customers, markets and money, but also about you and me, about ourselves. It is about the comanu as an ecosystem not only strinving for “lean and mean” but also for “lean and meaningful” for all stakeholders. It is about a deep understanding of what you are good at and of what you are not (“pretence = competence”). This goes for the company as a whole but also for the individual employee. This requires lasting attention. As it is, values are about the core of the company, giving them no attention means investing in what was good in the past. Usually that will not have a happy ending for that company.
Companies that only strive for ( short term) financial profit usually lose their social value and do not face a long future. On the other hand, companies who do not offer value for money also have a challenge in attracting customers. So, where is the optimum?
So, concretely: what do we put on the business balance score card in this era of acceleration in business dynamics and the digitalization of the business management? We make a first move with a number of statements and interpret these into keywords. These statements mainly deal with the interaction with the customer and one by one have concrete implications for Set-up and Operations, for ICT solutions and for HRM profiles.
They may serve as a basis for prioritisation, for instance with project selection, investment
decisions, individual assessments or with the selection of new colleagues.
Statements 1-3 deal with customer- and market-focus. Statements 4-7 deal with the issue
of how we internally aim at that market.
1. To the customer, the company feels like a small company.
2. We are assessed by our supply in the market.
3. We operate on a buyers’ market: help the customer to buy.
4. The customer goes before the boss.
5. Dare to be both the teacher and pupil.
6. Pay for performance, promote for ability.
7. Also the supporting, humble, role of the hairdresser is on the credit titles (I don’t understand this point Frans….)
Ad 1. Of course we already did do relation management in the company. But we should not only embed that in the structure of the company, but also in the little figures: B2B = P2P (Business-to-Business is People-to-People). However, there are more and more indications that MZM (Mid-Business Market) customers find this important and are prepared to pay for that. Just like your regular car mechanic or financial advisor forms an interpretation of “preferred banking” for you. ICT makes it possible to make this a selling point for every company and in this way, at the same time give more customer focus to the company.
Keyword: brand value
Ad 2. The market is/becomes even more the standardized. That decides the added value of a company and with that its continuity. This means that, with regard to our ideas on added value, earning power and customer desire, we have to listen to the market and not to ourselves. Customer focus and really listening are essential issues here. In this statement, it is obviously not only about what but also about how. A clumsy putting away of a good offer does not work either. So that also means that the organization should closely “chafe” the market with an open eye for what the market wants to pay for the supply with a high “do as you promise” content.
Keyword: customer focus
Ad 3. The more transparent the market, the more ‘the customer is king’. In a business where a long-lasting relation with the customer is desirable, the approach of the bags-seller on Gran Canaria, who has to score now and here, is no use. Companies who put a long-lasting customer relation as their focus, often do not need sales anymore but consultative selling. This requires a certain humility, great listening skills, empathy, patience and the ability to win the customer’s trust. It is the attitude of the butcher at the corner, who combines the desires of yesterday, of today and of tomorrow of his individual customer in the supply that he, as a company, provides. Driven by customer value, consequently.
Keyword: consultative selling
Ad 4. The customer pays my wages. This goes directly and very palpably in a one-man business. This also goes, though less palpably, for large companies. More and more, a conflict may arise between the boss, who assesses me and the customer who pays my added value. This means that the loyalty will more and more shift from the employer towards the customer. According to this guideline, you will therefore opt for the customer. This movement becomes very visible in the chain reversal, where the customer will control the company, with spectacular effects for turnover and costs.
Keyword: customer at the centre
Ad 5. If you experience yourself solely as a teacher and not as a pupil, then that will result in your not learning anything anymore. This is a dangerous situation for the business, the more so because usually you do not notice that as a teacher. Even though it will be difficult, the only remedy is to call each other to account for that. 360 degrees assessments help to prevent this.
Keyword: living organization
Ad 6. We pay for performance, but someone’s possibilities for the business determine his earning power. Therefore, avoid promotion for performance. We discover the possibilities through the development of competence passports and real interest for the colleagues. The talent to spot talent is one of the determining factors for continuity of the company.
Keyword: talent spotting
Ad 7: Out of sight, out of mind is a powerful mechanism but does not promote real cooperation. To put down real performances in the market we will have to “build giants” by daring to stand on each other’s shoulders. Trust each other, honour each other, pats on the back for every visible or less visible, humble, contribution form the basic attitude and condition to create real cooperation. Just as in sports: also he who gives the assistance, deserves the applause. Not only the big boss should get attention.
Finally: “understand = re-stand”
One of the core assignments of every company is to learn to really understand. Understand the market, the customer, the colleague. Without understanding there is no connection. And without connection there is no cooperation. To really understand this, you have to be able, and dare, to understand: stand in a different way, sometimes literally. To be able to see and listen from a different position. From the pupil’s role instead of the teacher’s role for instance. Observe a problem or situation through someone else’s glasses, the customer, the colleague, the stakeholder. Re-position and take another viewpoint should also be possible within the structures of the company. When in a company everything is organized according to fixed procedures and is locked up through fixed routine structures, people included who then work on the conveyor belt, then such a company cannot re-position and therefore not understand. Such a company will then have a problem. If everything is a must there is no chance to meet, no colleagues, no customer and no one else. For companies it will be one of the major assignments or challenges to regain this ability to (under)stand. If you can, you may stay. If you can’t you will pass. To understand and to keep creating a lasting meeting with the market and the customer you need the meeting with yourself. And for the meeting with yourself, it is necessary to have an insight in your own value(s). That makes it possible to keep going amidst the “changes caused by the Internet in life and work”, the study assignment of our Research Group. Stir or flood, do you let yourself be flooded or will you happily go surfing on the Internet?
It is totally up to you!