By Peter Klinge, Jr. of KLINGE associates
The following outlines principles for how to Align the Why of your business to Growth Outcomes.
Informed by experience this shows how to develop strategy and a plan that is aligned with a company’s leadership and organization to achieve higher levels of business success.
I recently led workshops for C-level executives and owners from early stage to established mid market companies. I noted the consistent level of uncertainty about the Why, What and How in their business. I credit Simon Sinek’s 2009 book Start With Why to get me thinking again about the simplicity of leadership and communication around the central idea of a business purpose.
Most executive/owners are heads down working hard on their business. Typically, they are good at ticking off how good their people are, and the company’s financial performance.
Ask why their business exists, and they’ll talk about what they sell… mmm?
There’s nothing special about selling something- everybody does. At some point the company loses how they describe and communicate Why they are in business and what sustains them and their people.
The business becomes uninspired and stale. Products and services are unremarkable. Sales people become confused about how to present the company. Sales sag and profits fall. People become a cost.
The reasons are many as to why leaders lose the sense of a company’s purpose. Much of this is affected by changing marketplace and economic dynamics. Part of this is that questions related to Why, Vision, Mission, even goal setting, appear to be an abstraction. Many of these business leaders are so occupied in the daily operational tactics that it seems a luxury of time and resources to look up and envision even the next several months.
However, it is essential to be able to communicate to people: employees, customers, and other stakeholders the Why or Purpose of your business. That is if you want them to follow your leadership and deliver consistent performance.
Here are some ideas we worked on in a series of workshops that offer a framework and concrete help that we’ll review in three sections. The Exhibit A Graphic below helps to illustrate these principles:
- All Businesses Exist for a Reason. They started for a reason, and it wasn’t about selling something. Often the reason was fueled by a passion, the desire to solve a serious problem, or by observation of a market need. The corollaries to this are:
- A business Only continues to exist and Thrive if they maintain a Reason to continue;
- They are consistently Asking and are Able to Answer Why or Purpose.
Take as an exercise an observation of companies you might admire, or those you once admired that have faltered. Consider what made them great, and why others seemed to fall away. Look beyond the numbers to consider what they say and deliver through their people, and what is reflected in their offerings.
Why or Purpose is the outline of the company’s strategy and plan. I describe this as a balance between:
- Vision & Pragmatism: the road you set for the general direction balanced with milestones to stay on the path along the way.
- Organizational balance that is to embrace point 1 via Leadership and Teamwork is necessary to drive execution of the plan.
If a company cannot articulate point 1 and communicate concisely and effectively to address the organization, then little progress will be made. The ability to define the strategy in this way creates:
This approach to strategy and planning can help the organization more effectively to execute.
This leads to the third and final concept of the framework: Alignment of Why/Strategy to desired Business Outcomes. For illustration purposes we’ll address Sustainable Revenue as an outcome:
- Value Proposition– of what a company has to offer is derived from the clarity of the Vision;
- Ideal Customer– helps focus efforts on who is right as well as not right for what the company offers;
- Success Factors, i.e., the few that will drive the business;
- Accountability track progress and align roles back to Leadership and Teamwork to meet performance expectations.
There are certainly outcomes besides Revenue to which these principles will apply equally well. These might include outcomes for product, distribution, customer service levels or people development, preparation for business transitions and events, etc.
Exhibit A below shows how these principles interrelate and help you organize your strategy to outcomes with priorities for execution.
- Define Why You Exist So that you maintain a Purpose
- Align to a Strategy & Plan
- Tie to Defined Business Outcomes
- Remain Consistent to Why and question this periodically to adjust the organization’s thinking
Related subject content:
Peter Klinge is an adviser and interim executive for business owners and their companies. He and his associates support companies by helping to fulfill their desired potential. This in effect is Why we exist… to help companies grow….