The Four Principles of Sustainable Business Success
CALL it a slow down or a recession, the impact is the same – times are challenging. You now must look with greater attention at what you do, the decisions you make, and their impact on service, performance and profitability. Surviving the recession is not just about cutting expenses – it is about changing how you think about every aspect of your business. Tough times require a look at your challenges as ways to regroup, realign and redefine your approach to being successful.
Today, you have a world that requires more focus on what our employees and customers think, feel, want and need. Today you have a world that requires effectiveness with change, strong communication and full awareness of every detail of your business. Today you must live by a strategic plan, one that is clear, focused, accountable and empirical. Today, you must rally your organization to be on the hunt for opportunities – to review ever aspect of business, consider every situation, know trends, needs and challenges – and respond with ways to add value. These are the Five Principles of Sustainable Business Success. Build these into your culture and you will have the formula to succeed. Build these into your culture and you will attract and retain the best employees and customers.
Expect Change and learn to welcome it; be resilient.
Our world is not static; it is built on change. But, change is not really the issue; how you respond to change is key. Organizations that understand change is actually a “constant” adapt to change and use it to drive their success. Charles Kettering said, “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that brings on progress.” Successful organizations see changing environments as opportunities to invent new products and services, expand their areas of expertise, reinvent, redefine and reposition; they see change as a way to expand what they know and do. They see change as a performance enabler; it forces each person in the organization to better understand their talents and strengths and to access them as needed for their world. Change provides the challenges and the obstacles that force you to respond, learn, grow, discover your potential, improve and find opportunities. Change is the fuel that drives great growth. Change forces your organization to grow or die, reach or fade. Change happens; it will always happen. Ignoring it will impact your success. Welcoming change leads to more confident, innovative and successful organizations.
#2 Know your business: know your purpose, strengths, and everything about your customers and competition.
Clarity counts, particularly in our changing world. What is your business? What are your core strengths, what value do you provide? Knowing your business in great detail is critical to building sustainable business success. Knowing your business will be critical in guiding your search for opportunities, as you must play to your strengths, talents and highest value areas.
Not everyone, nor every business, is good at everything. It is therefore critical for all businesses to understand their core competencies – their MaxImpact Core – the things that they are the very best at. When you know what your strengths are, you can play to them and develop your competitive advantage. You find ways to invent opportunities that need what you do best, making you more competitive and successful. When you take the time to understand what you are great at, you always start from a place of great performance power and become aware of your weaknesses and the threats to your business. A full knowledge of your business is critical to be successful regardless of the economy.
Share what you know; eliminate all obstacles to open and honest communication.
Keep information to yourself and you limit its ability to be used, meaningful and productive. We are in an age of extreme connection. Millions of times a day people are answering the question on Twitter, Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn and other social networks, “So, what are you doing?” They are sharing information about what they think, feel, are concerned with and are passionate about. Communication is the method to share information. Organizations that remove the obstacles to communicate what they know and to move information, consistently outperform all others. Information is the key to great decisions so the flow of information must be unencumbered and uninterrupted. Today, you pay your employees to think their way through their days. You need what they know, share, think about, hear from others, want, feel and are moved by. You also need this from customers. You need constant contact, constant dialog and constant communication. Organizations that work to eliminate all interruptions to this process accelerate and improve the movement of meaningful information to all of its members.
Know the power in your team
Learn to focus on opportunities; approach each day with optimism to see ways to create value, improve efficiencies.
You are now aware that change is constant and it can be your greatest source or impetus for growth and improvement. You also know how to assess your business – what works well and what needs improvement. And, you have been introduced to ways to improve how you source and share information easily, completely and effectively with your teams. The stage has been set for your organization to focus on opportunities. Optimism is key to an opportunity focus. By a commitment to assessing all events with a positive, “there is value here,” and “this will make us better” attitude, opportunities easily and quickly arise. Opportunity-thinking is a significant component of every successful organizations’ culture; it is how they approach each day. Organizations that develop a straightforward, open and full-participation strategy for finding and implementing opportunities focus on value-building, performance and success.
Own your success; build a plan and work it each day.
“Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle… when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” African Proverb. You need a plan and you must live your plan from the beginning to the end of the day. A plan is about action. Talk is cheap; action drives results. Successful organizations not only know their plan, but they track it, measure it, review it and live by it. They change it as the world and circumstances require, but all team members know their role, their impact and their responsibility to their plan. So, as opportunities are discussed and decided upon, they then move to being fully implemented. This is their real value.
Actions count. As those who are involved in managing a significant life change support it is critical for you to “work your plan.” To work your plan, you must know it, why it makes a difference, what role you have in it (and how others depend on you). The buck stops with you.