Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States with full fury, most people had probably never heard of the Defense Production Act, a U.S. federal government law passed during the Korean War. Even fewer know of the DPA’s genesis and precursor — Roosevelt’s World War II emergency services — and why it matters.
In today’s hyper-competitive world, business success is increasingly dependent upon your ability to build enduring relationships, which in turn demands a rare capability: creating and delivering a unique and compelling customer experience, supported by a management system that enables you to choreograph, improve and measure every customer interaction with your company.
I am nothing if not a consumerist. Meaning, I am constantly impressing upon companies I work with to make sure they have a deep and empathic understanding of their customers…past, present, and future. It’s especially critical if the intent is to devise new and innovative ways to offer differentiating and inimitable value to their customers’ experience.
What’s the difference between continuous improvement and radical innovation?
I get the question all the time, especially from organizations who have significant investment in some process improvement program — like lean, six sigma, or kaizen – and have picked all the low-hanging fruit clean, squeezed as much inefficiency from their work as is humanly feasible, and are now realizing that their beloved program wasn’t all that customer-focused.
All that internal scrutiny left the customer without any new and useful value. So the leaders decide that what they need to focus on now is innovation.
Does this sound familiar?
Your company has spent months coming up with a detailed action plan for the coming years, complete with financial projections illustrating exactly how you will grow share of market and thus revenue, along with a budget. All of that serious documentation gives you great comfort. In fact, everyone feels really good about it, it’s so solid. The senior leaders are all nodding yes. You can feel the weight of the plan when you hold it. So it must be good. All you need to do now is follow the plan–execute, execute, execute–and wait for the revenue to rain down from the heavens. Life will be grand!
If I were to ask you what your company/unit/team strategy is, could you answer in a single sentence?
Is that even possible? And even if it is, why would you want to? (Other that to respond to some smart-aleck strategy facilitator, of course.)
A significant portion of our strategy development work is with internal functions, a click or two below corporate and business unit strategy: marketing, human resources, purchasing, and even internal strategy groups.
There is good news and bad news in this. The good news is that internal functions have recognized the need to be strategic, even if it is because higher level strategies demand supporting strategies. The bad news is how many internal functions don’t think strategy applies to them.
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The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.Albert Einstein