If you have been following my recent posts, you know it is now time for the 4th principle. These are principles launched by Brightline Initiative with Project Management Institute to help guide leaders and executive bridge the gaps between strategy design and strategy deliver.
While the first three principles are what could be marked as common sense, it was good to see that this common sense was not common. The research shows numbers that are mind blowing in this area. For instance, did you know that 70% of leaders spend on average 1 day a month reviewing strategy and 85% of leadership teams spend less than one hour a month discussing it (The gap between strategy and execution HRB, 2017). I think you might agree with me that such numbers may indicate that strategy execution is a tick box exercise rather than embedded in the culture of the company or the way of working. The fourth principle is all about ensuring teams getting the right insights at the right time. Here it is
Principle 4 – Leverage Insights from Customers & Competitors
You may want to call this: Market Research. It is ok to refer to it as such as long as you are clear about the definition of market you are working with. Brightline puts this as principle number four because they want to ensure that executives ensure they understand what their own customers need and want as well as what are competitors in the same sector doing to attract other customers. It is the necessity to work holistically and not just focus inwards on what you are executing. Looking inwards will end up removing you completely from the environment you are working in, the risks, the opportunities, the shifts that may necessitate you to alter your strategy.
If you look at the International Standard Organisation, one of the most popular standards that companies get certified by is ISO9001:2015. 2015 is the lastest version of the standard. Previous to it was a 2008 version. In this latest version, ISO ensured they capture the correct essence for how businesses should work. This is when they introduced the ‘risk based approach’. The standard says that a company must ensure its Quality Management system (QMS) [or Business Model in other words] is built in a way that it considers risks and opportunities internally and externally.
There are lots of theories out there that I assume 8 out of 10 business leaders would have heard of or read about: PESTLE, SWOT, McKinsey 7S just to name a few. All of these models bring insights of the internal and external environment to the context of any company. How many business leaders keep these in mind and at the heart of their strategic conversation? The digital world has certainly contributed to a major shift in how we interact with customers. It also brought a shift in how customers interact with a brand and what they actually want a brand to give them. What I mean is that sometimes I may go get an independent app to access few bank accounts in one go. This does not mean that I would expect my own bank to offer me an app where I can link in it other accounts. But I do expect my bank to understand that I need to ensure my bank can allow such access from a third party app in a secure way.
One thing stuck with me in this module:
You are better off as a CEO speaking with 10 customers directly, than looking at survey responses from 10,000 customers.Brightline Initiative Principle 4 Module
This module brings experiences from an online retailer, to a bank, to a telecom company. All companies provide examples on how they leveraged insights from customers and competitors, made them available to the leadership team (those delivering the strategy), and saw improvements in the commitment and contribution.
The Voice of Customer is a very popular term. Companies measure the happiness index, the net promoter score, the satisfaction scale, etc… But shouldn’t we do a bit more than just collect some rating? Shouldn’t we understand the emotion, the sentiment, the experience behind some of these rating for us to understand where we got things right and where we need to improve?
In one of the banks I worked with in the Middle East, I launched a proactive retention process. It was many moons ago but the aim was to understand why customers choose to join our bank upfront. This was our way to work with them and build a positive journey from day one, and not wait until they decide to leave us and then conduct an ‘exit interview’, which would have been far too late.
All in all, it was another great module and well presented principle. Onto principle 5.
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