Can you imagine what your business would be like if it could continually step out, renew and evolve itself so it could always outcompete its competitors? It is possible – if you know where to focus your energies.
Active Knowledge Question:
What do you focus on in your business to ensure that it is always competitive?
Building A Business That Will Last 100 Years And Beyond
In last week’s edition of Compete Weekly, we examined how far ahead your business’s strategy should look with the question ‘Why not 100 years?’ being posed. Of course, the retort is ‘why would you ever look well beyond your tenure at the business and your lifetime?’ And ‘how could you possibly look so far ahead when change is occurring so rapidly?’
In response to these ‘why?’ statements, I would say that:
- In a leadership position, your role entails far more than yourself and you should always seek to build an enduring business that will last well beyond your tenure. The success of your leadership really rests on the success enjoyed after you have left, and not gained while you were there.
- Business success doesn’t so much come from being able to know the future but rather being able to create it, and, most importantly, being able to adapt to it.
I suppose behind these questions and the answers lie a simple point, how great do you want your business to be?
I believe the thought of building a business that will successfully evolve over 100 years is not even on the radar of most business leaders, as they are struggling to plan for just the next few years. Beyond that, would they even know where to start with such a challenge?
Well, the answer lies in the competitive engine of your business. There exists within your business, whether you recognise it or not, a competitive engine that sets the floor and ceiling to your success.
If you focus on your competitive engine and keep it tuned and running well, then your business will step out, renew and evolve itself. A century and more of continuous success is well within your reach.
The Power Of The Competitive Engine
How can the competitive engine in your business be set up for a lifetime of continual success?
The competitive engine is built as follows:
The ‘core’ represents the strength of competitiveness in a business. If the core is strong, the business will be competitively fit. The ‘focus’ reflects where the business has chosen to compete and the ‘fuel’ represents how clean or pure the energy is in the business.
Put all of those elements together and they reflect the capability of the business to know:
- Why it exists.
- What need it is seeking to fulfil.
- And how to do it in a way that delivers greater customer value than anyone else on a consistent and continually compounding basis.
In other words, your business is always stepping out in its marketplace, renewing itself, and evolving to deliver ahead of the market.
Setting Your Business Up To Always Win
This is how your competitive engine sets you up to win and why focusing on the competitive engine will underpin this outcome:
1. It all starts with purpose.
Purpose is the cornerstone of your business and your future success is built on it. Purpose is the reason why your business has been formed and should be aligned with customer need in a manner that reflects value. Purpose allows you to see what comes next in your chosen marketplace and feeds innovation, growth, and helps to unearth the next level of value for your customers.
For example, Steve Jobs expressed Apple’s purpose as being ‘to make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind’. This purpose allowed the business to think about customer need in a manner that spurned a range of market setting products and services.
2. Leadership and relationships cement it.
Worthy leaders and leadership building a relationship of trust with all those who work within and with the business is vital. Trust underpins commitment. It allows everyone to step forward and give their all to the business, without reservation in pushing forward on purpose.
If you were to work with a leader who possessed the traits of a worthy leader you would be working for someone who:
- Invests themselves in uplifting you and bringing your talents to the forefront.
- Places themselves last and seeks to serve the business and its customers first.
- Recognises and rewards your talents.
- Believes learning is important and creates a culture of continual learning.
- Listens to you and your ideas.
- Seeks to work with the best.
- Doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
- Takes failure in their stride and doesn’t seek to attribute blame to others.
- Seeks to win your trust and support.
- Has a positive attitude to life and comes to work with excitement for the day ahead.
- Views everything through the lens of opportunity.
3. Vision provides direction and culture is the glue.
Vision is best seen as the ‘quest’ for your business. It is your call for others to join you on this journey.
Purpose and vision go hand-in-hand but fulfil different roles:
- While purpose will tell you why you are here, vision will tell you where you must go.
- Purpose gives you a reason for being; vision gives a reason for moving.
- Purpose connects you with customer need; vision connects with the future of that customer need.
- Purpose is your anchor or cornerstone; vision is your beacon or lighthouse.
Culture is the personality and traits of the business and are crafted to uplift all the elements of the engine and eliminate those aspects which are not consistent with its peak performance.
4. Out of purpose comes need, which is guided by and guides capability.
The absolute focus of your business is customer need and understanding how that need is changing and evolving. Today, you compete around customer value and taking that value to another level every day.
Your ability to identify and deliver on that value is ‘capability’. As you understand need, you build capability, as you build capability, your understanding of need grows deeper.
The value you deliver to customers is the optimisation of need, value and capability. This is your competitive strategy.
5. Rewards are the fuel.
Rewards are targeted at the behaviour, which reflects the competitive engine and are available to all. Their form is consistent with that behaviour. Monetary rewards based on profit would not be consistent with the engine’s peak performance.
Understanding and setting how success is defined in your business allows rewards to be correctly structured.
6. Most importantly, all barriers must be removed so that rewards may be enjoyed.
Self-interest, paradigms and bureaucracy are typically the types of barriers that exist in many businesses that stifle competitiveness. Misaligned processes can also form a barrier and all processes must be designed to support the engine.
Barriers are removed principally through correct organisational design.
If your competitive engine is well tuned your business is always evolving as it is in its character to follow the mantra of ‘better every day’.
For your competitive engine to function at its optimal state, motive must be aligned with purpose and that motive cannot be profit. Businesses are made to compete, and, if they compete well, profit will be earned.
Leaders who set profit as the motive for being in business literally sap the competitive strength from their business and doom it to a short life. A profit-first motive feeds self-interest, politics and short-termism. All of which undermine performance.
Leaders are able to plan and invest in their business’s performance and longevity by singularly focusing on continually strengthening their competitive engine. A competitively fit business will emerge with undefeatable business strategies and real growth being some of the results and, of course, profit to allow the business to sustain and grow.
An entirely new level of performance.
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All the best in the success of your business,