The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different. -Peter Drucker
The Idea: George Bernard Shaw got it right: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Odds are, most people don’t understand, are confused by, or are not motivated from your objectives. As reported by a recent Harvard Business Review article, “When CEOs Talk Strategy, Is Anyone Listening?” most of your teammates can’t explain the mission of your organization. Less than one in three people can share their company’s strategy, and seventy percent of employees are not aligned. Do you want to drive consistent results? You must embrace three questions.
Is your “why” big enough? Don’t be so sure.
An Achievers’ survey, The greatness gap: The state of employee disengagement, states that fifty-seven percent of employees are not inspired by their company mission. It’s perceived as boring, inauthentic or not relevant.
Organizations with purpose are contagious. They are tribal and build their brand through storytelling. Leadership must put flesh on an organization’s purpose. They must become one with their spoken word.
Most missions are created in left-brain planning sessions versus being birthed out of purpose, passion, and obsession. A piece of paper on the wall doesn’t invoke emotion. A mission tattooed on the heart is another thing. Create a cause not a company. That’s a mission worth following.
Question 1: What’s the inspiration fueling your mission and does anyone care?
Who gets you and shares your values?
Yesmail Interactive and Gleanster Research surveyed one hundred senior-level marketers and discovered that only fifty-three percent believe they have an excellent understanding of customers’ purchase history, forty-two percent understand general demographic information, and eighty-six percent said they could do a better job with customer segmentation. Many organizations don’t understand their customer as well as they think they do.
Who is your customer? What do they value? Why do they value it?
Don’t assume you understand your customer. If you don’t love granular, tangible research, you don’t understand the customer. Take notice of their unstated reasons for buying your product or service. You can’t afford to assume you understand their motives and inspiration. Be a professional listener and pay attention to what’s not being said.
Question 2: Do you truly understand the heart of your core customer and what they value?
The old Japanese proverb says it plainly “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” The organizations that I admire are crystal clear on their priorities and are laser focused on execution.
By far, the biggest mistake I’ve found during years of consulting is the overabundance of priorities. If you want to drive execution you must limit your focus, measure what matters, and celebrate progress daily. If you have more than four or five goals, you have none. It’s that simple.
Want to be relevant? Talk less and execute more. The best are fueled by purpose, are always assessing the customer, and execute the business plan on a granular level.
Question 3: What have you done to compromise the “why?” and what practices are untruthful or burdensome?
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” (Antoine De Saint-Expory).
Create a culture that loves execution.
“There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should
not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker