Recently a company invited me to give a talk on growth at their annual meeting. This is a request I took quite seriously. My quest to grow and learn to manage growth and grow again, is well, a continuous, circuitous pursuit. I live it, read about it and of course, write about it. The preparation for my talk forced me to think through my thoughts on the key drivers of growth for any business.
One funny thing about the answer to business growth? There isn’t one answer. The answer is dependent on who you ask and their “come from.” What part of the business do they “come from?” What experiences and skills do the “come from.” Sales is critical to any business success. Any business must also market its product or service. R&D will insist that new products are the life blood of a company. Or is strong customer service the answer to growth? They know everything that goes on in a company. But what if billing and accounting aren’t at the top of their game? What this all boils down to is that it takes all parts of the business working together to grow. Business growth takes the right people in the right system taking advantage of the right market opportunity.
I would like to address the “right people” notion. The right people is about culture. Culture is the personality of a company. It takes the right culture to drive growth. It is easy to have a culture that hurts growth. Remember the cult classic movie Office Space? The movie gently pokes fun at corporate stereotypes. In one favorite scene the main character is in cubicle land and his boss pays a visit to his cube to remind him that he should put a cover sheet on his TPS reports. “Did you get the memo?” He has the memo! And he shows it to his boss, who still insists on getting him another copy. A few minutes later, middle management shows up to repeat the same, worthless request. I hope you’ll watch the clip – a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
What is my point in all this? Do you work in an environment where TPS reports rule your life? Are there worthless, wasteful moments in your job that if someone would just listen to you – you could improve the company? Or better yet, would your boss just let you change it? What does the coversheet have to do with customer satisfaction anyway? The customer seems to lack a voice in all of this.
Imagine a company culture that takes into account customer point of view in every part of the business. I call that an Outside-In culture. Stakeholders can speak for themselves and do. Employees are there to represent themselves. It is the customer that often lacks an advocate. How absurd right? The very reason the business exists, customers, often gets lost in translation. Every company has a stated mission statement around the customer. It is the goal on the brochure. The customer is simply treated indirectly in an inside-out way. And in most cases it happens by accident or worse yet is a by-product of unfortunate circumstances. Good intentions gone wrong.
Growth comes when culture is right. Put the customer in the board room and ask the question, “Is this good for the customer?”
Outside-In culture is part of how I help my company and clients grow. It is our Outside-in perspective that prompts us to apply our recruitment expertise in a tailored way to our customers. I am sure we have TPS reports that need to be changed. But I am confident that my staff can change them without me. How about your company? Do you have TPS reports in the way of growth?