(Time to read this Blog article is about 2.5 minutes)
Managing any business today is tough…and getting tougher. We’re all faced with more demanding customers, more and stronger competition, increased complexity and shrinking margins. On top of that, great staff are hard to find and keep…and that problem won’t go away any time soon.
Every industry is over-served and under-differentiated. To thrive we must create, deliver and communicate extraordinary customer value and experiences that clearly differentiate us from our competitors, make us ‘famous’ and grow our bottom line. Mediocrity is no longer an option.
In spite of what anyone tells you, whether your business is large, small, or just getting started, your first and most important job is creating clarity…and nobody talks about that. If we, as a business, don’t know clearly ‘who’ we are, where we’re going and what we stand for, how will our target customers know who we are, how can we be focused and intentional in running the business…and how will we know what talent we need to attract, develop and retain to make it all happen?
Clarity always starts at the top so, as owners, leaders or managers, our 1st job is to be clear about these 8 things:
- Who our target customers are and what life’s really like for them.
- The compelling customer value and experience that we commit to deliver. Value and experiences that will ‘grab’ our target customers, clearly differentiate us from our competitors, make us ‘famous’…and grow our bottom line.
- How we’ll communicate our compelling value story in a crowded and cynical market. There’s no point being the best if we’re also the best kept secret.
- What we commit to become to be a profitable and responsible market leader in 3 to 5 years (our Vision). How will our business be different from what and who we are today?
- The extraordinary bottom line that we commit to generate. Without a healthy bottom line, there is no business.
- The specific decisions, actions and improvements that we must take (our Mission) in every part of the business to get us to our 3 to 5 year Vision. How might our parts of our business model have to change to keep us relevant?
- The talent, team, and organizational structure we need to create…and how we must grow as leaders to make this happen.
- How we commit to behave along the way (our values, ethics, culture and standards). One of the most important roles of our leaders is to guard the integrity of the business.
Most businesses lack this kind of clarity…and it’s hurting them badly.
So, how do you get started on improving clarity in your business? Clarity, commitment, urgency and accountability start with you and filter all the way down the team through communication, daily example, rewards for performance and consequences for non-performance. If you as an owner, leader or manager are not clear about each of these 8 key factors, who else in the business could possibly be?
Realistically, as a business owner, leader or manager, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being ‘very clear’, how would you rate your personal clarity on each of these 8 key success factors…and how clear are your management team and your front-line people?
Sit down with some of the best minds and hearts in your business, give them the list of ‘the 8 clarities’ and have an open and honest conversation about what they’re clear about…and not clear about. Finally, get agreement on what needs doing or fixing and specifically what will be done, by whom, by when, measured how, to improve clarity, commitment, urgency and accountability throughout your business.
Forget ‘goals, targets, aims and objectives’. Let’s talk about ‘commitments’:
You’ll notice that in the 8 key clarities listed above, I’ve used the word ‘commitments.’ I talked about what we commit to deliver, what we commit to become, the bottom line we commit to generate and how we commit to behave along the way.
Every business in the world talks about ‘goals, targets, aims and objectives’. They have efficiency goals, sales targets, profit objectives and they aim to satisfy customers. One of my recent Business Coaching clients proudly states on their website, “We strive to be ethical.” What the heck is that?
All of these words, ‘goals, targets, aims and objectives’ leave way too much wiggle room to not perform. We need to replace all of them with one word, ‘commitments’. There’s a big difference between a goal and a commitment. A target is something we hit sometimes and miss other times …and it’s ‘OK’, it’s just a target. Goals are something we score sometimes and miss other times…and that’s ‘OK’. And, in business, nobody cares what we aim to do…they want to know what we commit to do. When we change our language, we change our culture. We become what we speak. Talking about ‘commitments’ helps create the culture of urgency and accountability that every business needs to thrive, or even survive.
So, for 2017 and beyond, what will you do, starting right now, to improve clarity in your business? From that clarity will come commitment, urgency and accountability.