Our Thoughts

Making it better in organizations

Posted by Patrick Manyanza on Nov 16 2015

Truett Cathy, the founder of the Chick-Fil-A restaurant chain in the United States, during a time when the company was facing a lot of competition and uncertainty said, "If we get better, our customers will demand that we get bigger". This simple but profound statement centers on the mindset of many great leaders. Great leaders focus their thinking on how to make it better because they have the foresight to know that if they make it better, then their customers will demand that they grow bigger as a company.

To make anything better, one must first engage in clarification and evaluation. In an organizational setting, clarification and evaluation is all about identifying and defining the win or the intended customer experience that an organization desires to bring forth. If the win is not clearly defined, it becomes very difficult to practice "making it better", because there is no clarity on what "it" is. In fact this win is what Peter Drucker describes as the value the customer places on a product or service. The customer does not simply buy a product or service; they buy value. Identifying and clarifying this value or win is critical for the success of any organization.

Once the win is clarified, then organizations know exactly what they are working on and this enables them to appropriately evaluate their progress, by asking the right questions, and taking appropriate remedial actions to ensure focus on delivering value to customers. This organizational win can, in fact should, be crafted into a simple but clear mission statement that if all staff embrace and collectively implement, will result into increased organizational success. Such a mission statement will govern the whole operation of the organization and is vital for all types of organizations; profit and non-profit alike.

For example let's look at this faith organization. Pastor Andy Stanley who runs one of the largest churches in the United States, sat with his team and after weeks they came up with a win statement that revealed the focus of their organization. The statement was very simple, yet very profound in successfully governing their church. It stated, "Creating a church where unchurch people love to attend". The mission statement of the Singapore Land Authority reads, "Limited land, unlimited space". It means that although land is limited in Singapore, the organization works to ensure availability of living space to Singaporeans. This is what they want their customers to experience.

Unlike goals, which are reached, win statements are experienced. Leaders will be well served by basing their organizational goals on their wins, which in turn will make it a lot easier not only to communicate them to their employees but also to give them meaning and clarity. Therefore, to make anything better, a leader first has to know what the win in the organization's products and services is. It is the win, which will attract customers resulting in increased sales and market share. This will, in turn, enable an organization to grow and get bigger. An organization doesn't get bigger by design it gets bigger by demand.

Not only does a well-crafted win statement focus efforts on customer value creation, it also creates opportunities for further value creation. It opens the horizon for value-focused innovations. However, having crafted a win statement, a good leader needs to keep keen watch on the ever-changing needs of customers to detect any changes in their value so as to accordingly go through a process of improving the win statement. Successful organizations are not satisfied with where they are because they understand that good is not good enough. They also understand that nothing fails like success and nothing is really final. This means they have built a culture of "making it better" that is focused on continuous customer centered innovation guided by their win statement.

Here are some questions to help you think about how you can move towards clarifying the win in your organization:

  • What specifically do we really want our customers to experience from the products or services we offer?
  • Does the mission or win statement of your organization make it clear to you what customers value in your organization's products/services?
  • Does the mission or win statement of your organization stimulate you to innovate?

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