Entries in purpose (8)

Two sentences defines Apple's purpose

"We love to make great products which enrich people's lives" Apple's CEO Tim Cook at the launch of the Apple Watch on 9 September 2014.

"We believe this product will redefine what people expect from the category"

Love or hate Apple, one thing is clear.  They are clear on Purpose.


Customers don’t care about your goals.

So - why are you in business?

To make money right?

Sure you need Sales to exceed your expenses.  Everyone gets that.

Most people would also say you need goals.  I accept that too.

But here’s the problem.

Your customers don’t care about your goals.  And they couldn’t care less about your profits.

Customer Tug-of-War

You’re in a tug-of-war with customers.  They want you to make “less” profit by dropping your price.  You want the opposite.  You both dig in.

Go on, admit it.  Customers can really suck sometimes.  Everyone seems to be taking a bite out of you.

How do you reconcile this problem?

Some businesses try to ‘satisfy’ their customers - every customer.

You shouldn't sell customers anything and everything.  You only sell what your company was created to do. It’s called  authenticity, and customers love it.

If you’re a high end fashion brand and your customers come in asking for cheaper alternatives, will you go down the line to ‘satisfy’ them?  Or will you be authentic and stick with what you do? 

The starting point is knowing what your company was created to do, it’s purpose.

Ask yourself one question: “Why does my business exist?"

It’s a tough question because you can only define purpose in terms of how the outside world views your business.

It’s about one thing

It becomes a question of value.

You need to know what your business brings to the world, it’s value to the world.  It's not about what you ‘offer' the world.

When you think about the offer, you are thinking about yourself.

This is the tough part. You need to see value from the customer’s perspective, but start from what you want to do in the world.  

Poor Yahoo

Let’s look at Google and Yahoo as an example.

Yahoo started life as a search engine, even before Google.  And yet Google’s share price is now $597.78 and Yahoo at $39.59 at Sept 7, 2014.  Google is 15 times more valuable.

Let’s look at how they defined themselves 10 years ago.

Google in 2004 ~ We maintain the world’s largest online index of web sites and other content, and we make this information freely available to anyone with an Internet connection.

Yahoo in 2004 ~ is a leading provider of comprehensive Internet products and services to consumers and businesses through our worldwide network of online properties.

Google was focused on what it was; a search engine.  It maintains that focus.  

Yahoo wanted to be “leading” but didn’t lead.  They focused on what they offered.  Yahoo offered products and services. 

Big deal, so does everyone.  

Yahoo was looking for ways to make money and lost sight of why it was there in the first place.

Source: NASDAQ

You don’t have to be a financial whiz to know Google is doing better.

Your customers are selfish

Back to your customers.  

They only care about what you can do for them, not your goals.

They don’t even care about your Purpose.  They only care about their value.

You don’t define Purpose for customers.  Purpose is yours.  It’s your single point of clarity.  Home base.

Part of the problem is that all the fancy management words are confusing and seem too blend together.

Now, you might be thinking that purpose, mission, vision, goals, strategy and tactics are different words saying the same thing. 

They're not the same.  Purpose is often forgotten because it’s mixed up with Mission, Vision and Goals. You need to be clear on the difference.



VISION:  Outcome

GOALS: Specific targets

STRATEGY: Your choices

TACTICS: To-do list

And it all starts with Purpose. 

Next up, we’ll look at the 6 things that define a valid Purpose.

But for now.  Start thinking about your Purpose.

End note

Yahoo in 2014 changed dramatically ~ is a global technology company focused on making the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining. 

Google in 2014 just tightened some wording ~ Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful

Great minds have purpose, others have dreams

Dreams rarely become reality.  Lets face it.  You might dream of winning the lottery, or have nightmares about drowning.  Most likely, neither will happen.

In life and business, dreams become reality when they are mixed with a big dose of Purpose.

Wishing something to be true won't make it so.  Making it come true because you know why you want it to become true, wil make it so.

The headline quote is attributable to Washington Irving.  Thanks Lifehacker for finding it.

Shut up and serve customers - 7 better ways to lead

One of the biggest issues I hear from clients is that they struggle to get front-line staff consistently delivering excellent service.  I hear it all the time with comments like:

“my staff are itinerants”

“they are inexperienced”

“they don’t care”

“this is just a job”

“the work is boring”.

With that in mind, how do you improve service at the front counter?

Telling someone to 'shut-up and serve' is not the best solution.  There is another way.

Both the employee and the employer have a responsibility to improve service.  For this article, I will concentrate on what the employer can do.

Warning.  Most of these points are obvious, yet they are not all followed because we need constant reminding.

There are so many things a manager needs to do that I’ve broken it up into separate articles.

1.  Be a leader

The leader shows the path, and drags people towards them.  This can be either by leading through example, or by simply reminding people of the bigger picture. 

Your staff will connect with things that affect their work, and the BIG picture, but little in-between.  Employees want to know ‘why’ your organization exists, and ‘what’ they need to do their job. 

They don’t necessarily care about your Mission, Vision and Goals as much as management does.  Tell me why I’m here, and tell me what you want me to do.

2.  Be a manager

It’s difficult to engage employees if you can’t get their rosters right.  In addition to being a leader, the manager must manage and supervise.  That means providing all the tools necessary for people to do their work.

Management includes all the necessary tasks such as rosters, dispute resolution, staff overrides (e.g. big refunds), recruitment, staff education, writing reports, and probably hundreds of other activities.

It is important that all the managerial tasks are done competently because the staff need those jobs done.

3.  Understand the employee’s needs

The boss needs to alter their management style according to their employee’s development.  The rules of Situation Leadership dictate that a new unskilled employee needs very direct (telling) instructions. As staff develop, the style changes to be more one of coaching and delegation.

The manager’s job and interaction with each employee is individual, and changes as the employee develops in different tasks.

Don’t delegate to a new employee, and don’t tell an experienced staff member how to suck eggs.  (The same applies to how you serve customers – see 4 Customer Personas article).

4.  Tools

Ensure the employee has the right tools.  Do they have rosters, cheat sheets, instructions, override systems, someone to lean on, and so on?  Your employees can’t do their job without the tools.  In addition, the tools depend on the job, but if employees don’t have the tools they will think you don’t care about them or their work.

5.  Clarify requirements

Ensure the employees understand what’s required.  What does a good day look like, and what does a bad day look like?  Tell the employees what you personally need, and what you personally dislike. 

For example, I tell my employees I expect ‘no lies and no surprises’. 

Don’t give them a laundry list, just a high level view of what you need.  Just to say “serve customers” doesn’t cut it.  Be more descriptive.

6.  Say Hello

Say hello to every staff member you see in your day.  You don’t need to have a half hour Monday morning conversation with each employee.  There isn’t time.  But “good morning” takes half a second and shows you know they exist.

7.  Say Goodbye

Say goodbye to everyone you see going home at the end of shift.  I try to go one step further - I also say “Thank You” to everyone I see leave.  It changes the outlook of everyone who leaves, and after a ‘Thank You’, employees go home ever so slightly more positive.

Some of these points are probably as obvious as they are necessary and forgotten.

The list continues in following articles.

Your business exists for profit, nothing else.

Should you follow customers, or profits?

I was recently watching the Australian Senate enquiry into the Australian Banking system as Cameron Clyde, one of the Bank chiefs was being questioned.

The banker was guardedly trying to defend his Bank's practices to maximise profits, and the Senators were seemingly defending the battling little customer.

Often this interplay is seen as a zero sum game, where the organisation's profits are seen as coming at the expense of the customers. One gentleman was evicted from the proceedings calling out "Your all a bunch of thieves", "you're all frauds". He obviously believed the zero sum game was being won by the Banks.

But it's not a zero sum game.

Let's face it; all For-Profits organisations exist to make profits. Whether a sole trader, or a listed multi-national company, the sought outcome is the same. The reason these organisations exist is to maximise profits.

The reason for an organisation's existence should not be confused with the purpose of the organisation.

The reason for existence is internal, and common - to make money.

The purpose for existence is external and individual. Purpose is about the way the organisation chooses to interact with the outside world.

Customers are usually part of purpose, and if that purpose is being fulfilled, the profits will follow. The two can co-exist provided you start with the purpose, and check it in against your profits. Don't get confused, you are there for both.