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06-01-20

SPEED READING: ONE WOW

LinkedIn-Post_OneWow

Note:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One WOW! chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on their customer experience. 

Every company delivers a customer experience.

But most don’t deliver One that makes customers say “Wow!”

Bain & Company analysis shows that “companies that excel in the customer experience grow revenues 4%–8% above their market. That’s because a superior experience helps to earn stronger loyalty among customers, turning them into promoters who tend to buy more, stay longer, and make recommendations to their friends.”

Your company is already delivering some type of customer experience.

The question, however, is whether you are delivering a standardized experience that makes customers say “Wow!”

Obviously, your company has many customers. Each customer is unique and expects a customer experience that is custom-fit to their unique needs and wants.

However, fast-lane companies also standardize foundational elements of their customer experience. Thus, their unique Wow! is both standardized and customized.

To start the standardization process, identify One Experience that will appeal to all your customers. For example, you could ensure that every employee always calls every customer by name.

Over time, you can design a more robust customer experience that is a blend of multiple elements.

Of course, you can’t just develop a unique customer experience … you must deliver it.

Unfortunately, according to Gallup, only 27 percent of employees feel that their company always delivers what they promise.

Therefore, your company must develop the systems, processes, and culture to align everyone—and everything—to deliver your One Wow! … not one time but every time.

In this chapter, we will explore how The Ritz-Carlton, Costco, CrossFit, and Four Sisters unleashed the accelerating power of alignment by developing—and delivering—a standardized customer experience.

05-26-20

SPEED READING: ONE WAY

LinkedIn-Post_OneWayNote:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Way chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on their corporate standards.

Every company has corporate standards.

But most have never optimized them.

When something is a corporate standard, it means that you have One—and Only One—Way of doing something. This might be as mundane as having One—and Only One—Way to complete an expense form or as significant as having One—and Only One—Way to perform heart transplants.

Companies make all kinds of things a corporate standard, such as:

  • Their unique way of doing business
  • Mission-critical business processes
  • Policies or rules
  • Dress codes
  • Software applications
  • The exact size and furniture for every office
  • And more

Theoretically, these corporate standards are absolutely, positively, and nonnegotiably the same everywhere in your company.

Everyone must comply with them. No exceptions.

For nearly 16 years, Jenny Wu, an amazing stylist at Bubbles Hair Salon in Reston, Virginia, has cut my hair. Part of Bubbles’ One Way is a dress code: stylists are required to wear black. If a stylist shows up with purple hair, they get commended. It they show up in a purple shirt, they get sent home to change clothes.

While standardization can improve alignment, we advise companies to find the right balance. If nothing is standardized, there is chaos and anarchy. If everything is standardized, your company is a stifling bureaucracy.

We learned of an insurance brokerage that required every employee to write in blue ink. That sounds pretty stifling.

In contrast, UPS trains their drivers to “always” turn right. This standard was based on extensive analysis of traffic and route efficiency. That sounds smart—and the corporate standard was fully embraced.

In this chapter, we will explore how Bognet Construction, Formula One, Starbucks, and ING unleashed the accelerating power of alignment by standardizing their One Way.

D1D-Rotating--Amazon

05-18-20

SPEED READING: ONE PORTFOLIO

LinkedIn-Post_OnePortfolioNote:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Portfolio chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on their product portfolio.

Most companies sell multiple products and services.

But they often struggle to align them.

One way to create alignment is to literally sell just One Product. As we just learned, Basecamp chose this strategy.

However, most companies offer multiple products and services. Often, these are developed in different divisions. And divisions—by definition—divide.

In the 1970s, Bruce Henderson from the Boston Consulting Group introduced the concept of product portfolio management. His now famous “growth-share matrix” categorized a company’s products as cash cows, stars, question marks, or dogs.

Perhaps your company still uses this management tool to manage your product portfolio.

Once you decide to develop multiple products, your business becomes more complex, and alignment becomes exponentially harder.

In some cases, customers may not have any expectations of product alignment. For example, people do not expect seamless interoperability between Proctor and Gamble’s Tide, Pampers, and Crest products.

However, in most cases, customers will indeed expect some level of alignment. For example:

  • They may expect your products to have a similar look and feel.
  • They may expect your products to work together.
  • They may expect your products to share common components.

This means you will have to develop corporate standards for product alignment and interoperability. These standards are an important component of your corporate core.

In this chapter, we will explore how BMW, LEGO, RYOBI and HubSpot aligned their product portfolio to create both synergies and differentiation.

05-11-20

SPEED READING: ONE STRATEGY

LinkedIn-Post_Strategy

Note:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Strategy chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on their corporate strategy.

Every company has a corporate strategy.

But most people don’t understand what it is.

In a Strategy& survey of more than 1,900 executives, an astounding 80 percent said their strategy was not well understood within their own company.

Obviously, people can’t align with—or execute—a strategy they don’t understand.

Strategy is “one of those words.” Every company needs One, but even the strategy consulting firms don’t have a common definition for what a strategy is.

Rather than create a new definition of strategy or propose yet another framework, this chapter focuses on five critical strategy questions every company must answer in order to provide clarity to the organization:

  • Which market segment(s) should you target?
  • What product(s) and/or service(s) should you sell?
  • Where should you compete?
  • How much should you charge?
  • What is your business model?

To unleash the accelerating power of alignment, your company must answer them clearly and precisely.

Unfortunately, many companies struggle to do this. If they even have a strategy, it could be summarized as “more.” More markets, more proposals, more products, more cities, etc.

The problem is that sometimes, more is less.

In contrast, fast-lane companies are much more disciplined about their strategy. In this chapter, we will look at how USAA, Basecamp, Iridium, Dollar Tree, and TOMS answered the five strategy questions.

Obviously, there are many other strategy questions that must be answered. Many of these are functional strategies. The Chief Financial Officer must develop a strategy to finance the company’s operations. The Chief Marketing Officer must develop a strategy to build awareness and demand. The Chief People Officer must develop a strategy to recruit, retain, and develop the very best people. This week, we will focus on the five corporate strategy questions.

05-04-20

SPEED READING: ONE BRAND

LinkedIn-Post_onebrand

Note:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Brand chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on their corporate brand.

Every company has a corporate brand.

But most are undifferentiated and uninspiring.

Here’s the problem: people don’t align with undifferentiated and uninspiring brands.

So, you must start by evaluating your corporate brand. (While your company may have many brands, it is your corporate brand that ultimately creates alignment.)

Your corporate brand has many functions.

First, your corporate brand must be an umbrella. It must be large enough to cover all your products and services. It must work in all your geographies. It must appeal to all your stakeholders.

While some will debate the “extendibility” of a corporate brand, Virgin uses theirs for every business they enter. Obviously, this creates alignment across their entire portfolio.

Second, your corporate brand must identify who you are and differentiate you from your competitors. Some of the key components of your corporate brand include:

  • Your company name
  • Your corporate logo
  • Your corporate visual identity
  • Your corporate value proposition
  • Your corporate personality
  • Your corporate tagline

So, perhaps you are thinking, “We have these things … so, we are aligned, right?”

Remember, people don’t align with undifferentiated and uninspiring brands. So, just because you have them does not automatically mean that they are any good.

Finally, your corporate brand must be a powerful magnet. It must attract the right people—including employees, customers, partners, and investors—to your company.

This week, we will explore how fast-lane companies like Virgin, UPS, the Government Employees Insurance Company, Chick-fil-A, and De Beers unleashed the accelerating power of alignment by creating a corporate brand so powerful that millions of people want to align with it.

04-27-20

SPEED READING: ONE CODE

LinkedIn-Post_OneCode

Note:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Code chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on their values.

Every company has values.

But most struggle to make them more than just words on posters.

According to Wikipedia, a value system is “a set of consistent ethic values and measures used for the purpose of ethical or ideological integrity. A well-defined value system is a moral code.”

Most—but certainly not all—of the companies we studied had a codified list of core values.

Unfortunately, core values can also be a source of cynicism. Sadly, several CEOs we interviewed did not have their company’s values memorized. Dozens of employees shared stories of executives whose behaviors were in direct violation of their company’s values. Perhaps millions have been impacted by other forms of corporate hypocrisy.

Despair.com has built a very nice business selling posters mocking core values. Here are a few examples:

  • Perseverance: The courage to ignore the obvious wisdom of turning back.
  • Procrastination: Hard work pays off over time, but laziness always pays off now.
  • Mediocrity: It takes a lot less time and most people won't notice the difference until it's too late.

Unfortunately, Gallup’s research revealed that only 23 percent of employees know how to apply their company’s values to their work. Nonetheless, we included core values as one of the Accelerators because many exemplar companies used them effectively to create alignment. Some of the common best practices include:

  • They codified their values into One integrated value system. We call this your One Code.
  • They passionately communicate the values, so everyone knows what they are.
  • The employees—especially the senior executives—live them, breathe them, and personify them.
  • They only hire people who share their values, and never tolerate behavior that violates them.
  • They infuse their values into every fiber of the company, aligning every process, guiding every decision.
  • They reward and recognize people who demonstrate their values.
  • They justify them, so everyone knows WHY these are the values.
  • They translate their values into a set of expected behaviors. (Netflix calls this their “Culture Code.”)

Core values can’t be seen on the balance sheet, but they can be one of your company’s most valuable assets. They can allow a company to withstand a crisis. They can guide leaders faced with radically complex decisions.

Assuming they are more than just words on posters in the break room.

In this chapter, we will explore how Blommer Chocolate, Hilton, the Mayo Clinic, and Netflix codified their values to unleash the accelerating power of alignment.

04-20-20

SPEED READING:  ONE MISSION

LinkedIn-Post_MissionNote:  This is an excerpt from my latest book,Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Mission chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on One Mission.

Your company has a mission.

Otherwise, you should not exist.

As best as I can determine, the term “mission statement” first appeared in an obscure U.S. Department of Commerce document published in 1960. Since then, it has become conventional wisdom to suggest that companies should have One.

While every company has a mission, our research revealed that many—but certainly not all—companies have mission statements.

Crafting a corporate mission statement can be an excruciating process.

In 1983, Bain and Company, the management consulting firm, embarked on the process of crafting a mission statement. The senior partners of the firm spent five days holed up in a cabin in New Hampshire. They agonized over every word and ultimately crafted this statement:

“We help our clients create such high levels of value that together we set new standards of excellence in our respective industries.”

Bill Bain, their founder and CEO, described it this way, “This is the combination of those things that we already do when we are at our best and those things that we need to do to be at our best more often.”

While most of the mission statements we reviewed were vanilla and uninspiring, a well-crafted One—like Bain’s—can help companies create alignment.

In this chapter, we will look at how fast-lane companies addressed this issue. Amazon’s mission is internally focused and articulates what they aspire to become. Tesla’s mission is externally focused and describes what they aspire to do.

To me, aspirations are visions, not missions, but who am I to argue with Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk?

Next, we will look at Medtronic. They have been guided by their mission for sixty years!

Finally, we will explore One.org and learn how companies can make their mission more inspiring.

Of course, it is not enough to have One Mission; you must use your mission to guide both big strategic decisions and everyday tactics. You must align everyone—and everything—with it. You must prune things that are not aligned with your mission.

04-13-20

SPEED READING--ONE VISION

LinkedIn-Post_OneVisionNote:  This is an excerpt from my latest book,Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Vision chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on One Vision.

Every company has a vision.

But most of them are pretty blurry.

Only 35 percent of adults have 20/20 vision, and an even smaller percentage of companies do.

Most companies suffer from some sort of vision disorder, such as myopia—where they can’t focus on the long-term, or tunnel vision—where they get blindsided by market shifts and discontinuities.

Worse yet, according to Achievers’ 2015 North America Workforce report, a whopping 60 percent of employees did not know their company’s vision.

Fast-lane companies create alignment by having just One Vision. After all, how can you create One Company when every division has a different vision?

While it is critical to have One Vision, there are many ways to articulate one. In fact, we discovered four common ways:

  • The “visionary” vision
  • The “inspiring” vision
  • The “company ambition” vision
  • The “Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)” vision

In fast-lane companies, the process of defining the vision is as important as the vision itself. They use a collaborative process that combines top-down aspirations with bottom-up forecasts.

Assumptions are debated. Competitors are studied. Trends are extrapolated.

Of course, smart companies do a gut check before launching the vision. They understand what it will really take to turn the vision into reality. They have “counted the costs.”

There is nothing more demoralizing to a company than a unilateral, top-down vision that is more of a delusional pipe-dream than a vision.

And finally, high-performers make the case for the vision. Every executive—not just the CEO—can passionately articulate the vision and can explain why this is your vision.

Of all the visions you could have chosen, why did you select this One? If you can’t answer that question, no one will buy in.

In this chapter, we will examine how Virgin Hyperloop One, Habitat for Humanity, Southwest Airlines, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with their unique, One-of-a-Kind Visions.

04-06-20

SPEED READING: ONE THING

LinkedIn-Post-ONETHINGEvery company does lots of things.

Sadly, most never become truly great at anything.

For those of you who have not yet read my book, Decide One Thing, I will summarize it in One Sentence: you must be good at lots of things, but the way to win is to become differentiatingly great at One Thing.

In 1990, C.K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel introduced the idea of corporate competencies in a Harvard Business Review article entitled, “The Core Competence of the Corporation.”

More recently, Strategy&, the strategy consulting arm of PwC, advised companies to develop a set of “differentiating capabilities.” However, they do so with a word of caution:

“Too many companies don’t identify the few cross-functional capabilities they need to excel at in order to deliver on their value proposition. Not being clear about those capabilities, functions often decide to pursue functional excellence in silos. They strive to be world-class at everything they do, but often spread their resources too thin, and they don’t excel at anything.”

We strongly agree.

That is why we advise companies to pick ONE corporate competency and make it your One Thing.

Try to complete this sentence, “We are the best in the world at ______________.”

Most companies cannot honestly fill in that blank. After all, only One Company can be the best in the world.

However, every company can aspire to become the best in the world at something. So, every company can—and should—complete this sentence, “Our ambition is to become the best in the world at _____________.”

Step One is to choose something that your company could indeed become the best in the world at. And of course, there are many things that you can choose.

Step two is to align everyone—and everything—with your One Thing. After all, becoming the best in the world will require intense focus and disciplined investment. This is what turns your One Thing into a Differentiating Competitive Advantage.

We believe this is the most important component of creating alignment. Unfortunately, most companies do not have the discipline to Decide One Thing. That is why they can have visions, missions, values, and strategies … and still be massively misaligned.

Therefore, we strongly recommend that you lock this down before working on your vision, mission, values, strategy … or anything else.

Note:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment.  In the One Thing chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on One Thing.

03-30-20

SPEED READING -- ONE TEAM

LinkedIn-Post_OneTeam

Note: This is an excerpt from Dave Ramos' latest book, Drive One Direction.

In his landmark book, Good to Great, Jim Collins introduced the concept of “first who, then what.”

So, let’s start by clarifying your “who.”

We believe that your corporate executive team is ultimately responsible for creating alignment. Therefore, Step One is for them to accept that responsibility.

This starts with your CEO. Your CEO must operate as the company’s Chief Alignment Officer.

Randy Papadellis, the former CEO of the cranberry cooperative Ocean Spray, referred to himself as the “Chief Alignment Officer.” Papadellis joined Ocean Spray in July 2000 as the Chief Operating Officer and was promoted to Chief Executive Officer in 2002. Here is how he described the transition,

“I believe the biggest difference between being CEO and COO is the job of alignment. When I became CEO, I realized very quickly that it was my responsibility to take the many constituencies we have in our business—our grower owners, our Board of Directors, our key suppliers, our key customers, or most importantly our employees—and make sure that they were aligned and moving in the same direction.”

Aligned and moving in the same direction! My sentiments exactly.

Second, the entire corporate executive team must embrace alignment as a critical corporate initiative. There are several reasons for this:

  • The corporate executive team is ultimately responsible for aligning the company’s multiple divisions, departments, functions, and geographies.
  • The corporate executive team is ultimately responsible for aligning the interests of the company’s multiple stakeholders, including investors, creditors, employees, boards, vendors, customers, governments, the communities where you operate, and more. These stakeholders often have competing interests which must be aligned.
  • The corporate executive team is ultimately responsible for aligning the company’s multiple strategies, tactics, goals, priorities, and initiatives into a coherent corporate strategic plan (One Plan).
  • The corporate executive team is ultimately responsible for aligning the company’s resources— both human and financial—with the corporate strategy. Budgets must be allocated. Headcounts must be approved. 
  • Each corporate executive has the responsibility to align their functional area. The Chief Financial Officer must consolidate the budgets. The Chief Marketing Officer must integrate the marketing plans. The Chief Sales Officer must roll up the sales forecasts. 
  • Finally, the corporate team “sets the bar” for alignment. If they are not aligned as One Team, the rest of the organization will be dysfunctional. They must be role models for alignment. A misaligned executive team will never create an aligned company.

Let me say that again. A misaligned executive team will never create an aligned company.