In today’s global marketplace, you must always be prepared to ask, listen, change and innovate. We’ve learned this from our customers and the interactions we have with thousands of executives nationally and internationally in the current global consumer landscape, which epitomizes a marketplace in flux. If there is one thing I want you to remember from this article, it is this: “It’s all about your customers.”
Consumers and customers everywhere are evolving, and organizations that win are those that either pull ahead or stay ahead of the curve. To achieve growth, you must have an organization that is comfortable with making their customer the driving motivation behind all decisions and directions that are taken. This means you must encourage and require change to take place — throughout your organization.
Driving Cross-functional Change
What can you do as the CEO or President of your organization to drive change?
It’s all about creating a culture and expectation for new ideas. Encourage and expect change. Create a culture that expects every function of your business to stay relevant and meet or exceed the expectations of their customers and consumers. Start externally and move internally – all stakeholders are important.
Organizationally speaking, marketing, sales and supply chain are viewed as the “idea engine.” This is because these internal organization are “supposed to be bringing different ideas to the table,” you expect it from them. How do they best accomplish this? It is expected of them. My encouragement is expect nothing less throughout your organization. All of your employees should be driving ideas. Expect the next big catalyst for growth to come from somewhere unexpected within your organization. Don’t just expect marketing, sales and supply chain to come up with it.
If you have never seen impactful ideas from your finance and accounting, human resource, manufacturing or customer service departments, it means you don’t require it from them. I would challenge you that if this is the case they are not focused on the “right” priorities.
Also, make sure your CFO, CHRO, CIO/CTO, COO are focused on the needs of their consumers and customers. The function they lead becomes irrelevant, because at heart, it’s not about them; it’s about their stakeholders. Expect them to base decisions on the future and what could be — and not just what is.
Organizations can quickly become stale, stop growing and lose respect when they just do things “because that’s the way we have always done it.” However, they can be viewed as the innovator, industry leader and the organizational change agent by opening their ears, eyes and mind and asking great questions to those who matter most – the customer.
- Does your company have one or two business functions that are stale and simply create no value?
- Do you provide them a seat at the table?
- Do you expect ideas and innovation from each function in your organization?
- Do you have a culture that encourages team members to focus solely on the customer/consumer?
- When was the last time we asked, those who we are supposed to be serving, how we are doing?
- What do those you serve value most and where can you help them accomplish or achieve their goals and objectives?
What to do now:
Encourage your executives to look at everything through the eyes of your customer’s customer. Expect the voice of your consumer or customer to be the leading voice across your company. If it’s not, perhaps you’re missing something that, once identified, could change your business forever.
In my experience hiring for organizations across consumer products, fast-moving consumer goods, retail, supply chain, packaging, transportation, technology and manufacturing industries that are growth-focused and determined to WIN, it’s all about innovation and change.
Focus on the future and focus on your consumers.
Other recommendations to help you along this journey:
- READ The Mind of the Customer* – How the World’s Leading Sales Forces Accelerate Their Customers’ Success. You have to start here…one of the best books you will ever read on focusing on your customers. I love this book, so please share your thoughts and let’s dialogue about your learning’s and what you will begin doing differently.
- Research Disney’s focus on customer experience.
- Attend Disney Institute Workshops and follow their blog
- Read “How to Create Raving Fans” on the Harvard Business Review Blog
- Sit down with your customers and begin a discussion – today! I have learned so much by spending time with our client’s on this topic.