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Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies
Book Review of Jim Stengel's Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies by Hazel Jackson

I first experienced Jim Stengel’s work at the Growth Summit conference in Atlanta; he was an engaging speaker and shared some ideas that resonated with me and the rest of the audience. I eagerly ordered his book to learn more. Unfortunately I was disappointed. It was a hard slog to read and although I still think he has well formulated ideas and insights we can apply, he made heavy work of the book.

The overriding concept of his research and career experience (he was the Global Marketing Officer for P&G) is that companies who have centered their business on improving people’s lives have a growth rate triple that of competitors.

Stengel studied 50 brands over a ten year growth period, connecting their financial performance to their impact on fundamental human emotions, hopes, values and greater purposes. Throughout the book he does ‘deep dives’ into specific products and companies and how they have purpose to brands and performance.

He calls the link ‘brand ideals’ and a viable one cuts through the clutter and clarifies what you and your people stand for and believe. Your role is to establish what your company or brand ideal is (purpose) and then connect it to improving people’s lives.

Through the research they established that there are five fundamental human values that improve people’s lives by:

Eliciting Joy - Activating experiences of happiness, wonder and limitless possibility
Enabling Connections - Enhancing the ability of people to connect with one another and the world in meaningful ways
Inspiring Exploration - Helping people explore new horizons and new experiences
Evoking Pride - Giving people increased confidence, strength, security and vitality
Impacting Society -Affecting society broadly, including by challenging the status quo and redefining categories

Your brand might cross over two or three, but you should find your dominant human value and then center your marketing activities and brand building and whole company culture behind this. In the keynote address he focused on just five words from these values and that helped me see how I could apply them to our own business:

Joy, Connect, Explore, Pride, and Impact.


Stengel provides a framework he calls the Ideal Tree – a series of steps to identifying, using and evaluating your brand ideal:

Discover an ideal in of the five fields of fundamental human values
Build your culture around your ideal
Communicate your ideal to engage employees and customers
Deliver a near-ideal customer experience
Evaluate your progress and people against your ideal


The model is simple, perhaps overly so, but the examples he provides are rich in content and insights. One of the struggles I had with the book is he starts with a detailed case study of the company Method. As I had no personal experience or knowledge of this brand, 30 pages on how they have bought their brand ideal to life really switched me off. 

I felt I was reading a story about Method – which was actually quite interesting but I got lost in their company. Stengel takes you through all five steps with Method and then does it again with deep dives into each step, highlighting some of the other 50 brands.

What I got from the book:

Continue to build your business focusing on your purpose – the reason why you are in business, and hopefully you can link it to one of the 5 human values. I can immediately think of local brands or companies I work with in the UAE do this – e.g. THE One – is about saving the Planet and investing into communities.

Get into the minds of your customers, you need to help change their lives for the better – what do you offer that will do that. Then pull all your marketing efforts and communication in line with this offering. Every communication should start with your ideal in mind.

Great brands or companies that want fast growth should begin with their people and culture – get that right from the inside out, and the rest will be possible.

Measure your progress and be prepared to say no to something that doesn’t fit with your brand ideal.

From the list of Stengel 50, their Brand Ideals and the link to Human values – I selected a few brands to share:

Brand

Ideals Statement (from Stengel’s Judgments and research – not generated by the companies)

Link to the Five fields of Fundamental Human Values

Accenture

Accenture exists to help people accelerate ideas and achieve their dreams

Impacting Society

Airtel

Airtel exists to enable people in India and Southern Asia to enjoy and benefit from local, regional, national and global conversations

Enabling Connection

Amazon.com

Amazon.com exists to enable freedom of choice, exploration and discovery

Inspiring Exploration

Apple

Apple exists to empower creative exploration and self-expression

Inspiring Exploration

Blackberry

Blackberry exists to connect people with one another and the content that is most important in their lives, anywhere, anytime.

Enabling Connection

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola exists to inspire moments of happiness

Eliciting Joy

Emirates

Emirates exists to connect people with the world through a new lens of perception

Eliciting Joy

FedEx

FedEx exists to deliver peace of mind to everyday interactions

Enabling Connection

Google

Google exists to immediately satisfy every curiosity

Inspiring Exploration

MasterCard

MasterCard exists to make the world of commerce simpler and more flexible

Eliciting Joy

Mercedes Benz

Mercedes-Benz exists to epitomize a life of achievement

Evoking Pride

Pampers

Pampers exists to help mothers care for their babies’ and toddlers’ healthy, happy development

Inspiring Exploration

Red Bull

Red Bull exists to energise the world

Inspiring Exploration

Visa

Visa exists to provide the freedom to people to follow their passions by providing better money for better living

Inspiring Exploration

Zappos

Zappos exists to delivery happiness through “wow” service.

Eliciting Joy


If you are a brand or marketing professional, this should be added to your ‘must read’ pile. From a business owner’s perspective, I felt he reinforced some fundamental principles we learned from other authors – however he had the evidence to justify the thinking from some great brands.

- Hazel Jackson, CEO of biz-group

Listen to the podcast of Hazel Jackson on The Library, Dubai Eye 103.8 reviewing Jim Stengel's Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies
Also Read; The Greatest Business Decisions of All

 
The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time
Book Review of Verne Harnish's The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time by Hazel Jackson

I am fortunate to have received a preview version of this book; it will only be published officially in October of this year. I was intrigued when author and business partner of biz-group, Verne Harnish, first told me about the concept – because how do you begin to select the greatest business decisions of all time?

The book I believe will be the first in a series and will create some hot debate and discussions on the choices. In the end they choose companies and decisions that were game changers in their industry, or era, and were counter intuitive – they went against the grain of popular practice.
Verne shares where the idea for the book came from and links it to his own material on the Four Decisions* for fast growth companies.
Verne states that although it’s a combination of thousands of decisions that lead to greatness, there seem to be a handful of decisions that stand apart from the rest – “Black Swan” moments, where the CEO could go right, left or not go at all.

* You only have to make four decisions in business – decisions around People, Strategy, Execution and Cash

Foreword

The foreword is by Jim Collins, who places a lot of emphasis on “who” rather than “what” decisions will be the biggest decisions you should control as a leader. The book covers 18 business stories and reinforces Collins perspective with eight stories revolving around people issues that were game changers.
Collins also states that many of the great decisions were not taken in isolation by the CEO, but rather decisions that evolved out of rigorous debate and with an attitude from the CEO of “I don’t know.” I found this fascinating as many leaders misinterpret their role and believe they need to have all the answers. Collins supports the principals explained in the Multipliers book by Liz Wiseman, recommending that Leaders increase their questions-to-statements ratio and to use debate to drive more informed decision making.
The research into great decisions showed typically that before each major decision, you would see significant debate. But after the decision, people would unify behind that decision to make it successful.
Collins concludes with an observation that it isn’t all about the big decisions, which this book obviously focuses on, but about the sum of the small decisions that drives a business to be great.


The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time


There is no ranking or categories; rather each story stands on its own merit. Verne picked his Top 5 personal ones though – I’ve provided a quick summary on each story and then selected the ones that I most enjoyed learning from.


Apple Brings Steve Jobs Back

The story has now been globally recognized as the game changer for Apples turnaround. In fact the initial inspiration for Verne to write the book, with the question “if this decision changed Apple, what other decisions changed the fate of businesses?” The chapter covers the lead up and poor decisions that were made by the board and the convincing by Gil Amelio for Steve Jobs to return as CEO and his haphazard slow return almost a decade after he left. The precise motivation for reinstalling Steve Jobs at Apple is irrelevant today. The fact that it happened has altered the landscape of global business for years to come.


How Free Shipping Saved Zappos

During the dotcom boom Zappos an online shoe retailer was struggling to stand out in a crowded field. The founders made a desperate decision in 1999 to offer free shipping and free returns – this lead to them realizing there true competitive advantage was not price but customer service. The chapter shares the build-up to the decision, and how it led to Zappos building a culture and business value that has been copied and envied by many.


Why Samsung pays its staff to Goof Off

How Chairman Lee Kun-Hee’s decision in the early 1990s helped build a blue print for global expansion. They sent their brightest young executives to immerse themselves in the culture of a country for 12 months. Not to work or make business contacts, but to understand how the consumers and country operated, with a strong component of the program to “goof off and learn”. Since 1990 some 4,700 employees have been serving yearlong sabbaticals in 80 countries across the global. The initiative is still in place today although it’s been slightly modified to 6 months, with some business context. It helped change Samsung from an isolated and introverted culture to the global giant it is today.


The Shareholder Comes Last

Johnson & Johnsons handling of the Tylenol laced cyanide crisis that left seven dead in 1982. How their transparency and quick decision to manage a nationwide recall and creation of a tamper proof bottle cost the company $100m, but ultimately enabled the brand to rebuild.


Why Daydreaming Pays off Big

The true story behind 3Ms culture to allow employees to spend 15% of their time on their own projects back in 1948. And how this has helped them to consistently reach the goal - 30% of revenue must come from products less than five years old. More broadly, 3Ms decision showed a doubtful world one of the knowledge economy’s most important and counterintuitive principals: A company can improve its performance by giving up control.


How Intel Got Consumers to Love Chips

How a young assistant Dennis Carter persuaded CEO Andy Grove to invest in a project to make Intel’s products appeal to the consumers, even though their clients were b2b. This is an incredible story of thinking out of the box, changing a business model and how key it is for CEO’s to be listening!


Jack’s Cathedral

Jack Welsh’s decision to invest $50m in Crotonville, GEs Executive Education Centre, whilst simultaneously laying off more than 100,000 people. The chapter covers Welsh’s thinking and philosophy and how the decision has changed the leadership talent pool that not only impacts GE’s success but countless other global businesses.


Bill Gates decides to take a week off

Gate’s celebrated ‘think week’, where once or twice a year he would shut himself away, read and deeply focus on a topic crucial to the software makers future. We all have a ‘tower of guilt’ – books or articles we really need to read to keep up to date this is perhaps one of the easier to implement decisions taken from the book.


SoftSoap’s Blocking Decision

This is my favorite chapter, because it is a David and Goliath story. In the early 1980’s a small Minnesota based business which invented a liquid hand soap made the decision to stall the big multinationals from stealing the market by buying the entire US supply of plastic hand pumps!


Toyota Pursues Zero Defects

After failing to penetrate the US market in the late 1950s how Toyota chose to adopt the ideas of quality guru W. Edwards Deming, turning its business upside down and becoming masters of the Toyota Way – the relentless pursuit of perfection.


Extreme Customer Service

Nordstrom’s decision to let customers return products – even if they didn’t buy the item at one of its stores – radically revolutionized the service industry. I loved the rules that were given to new employees on day one: “Rule No.1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules!”


Taking the Sting out of a painful situation

This story stood out because it was closer to home, but also because it seemed to share a decision that businesses of today could not follow. It covers the story of how Tata Steel needed to lay off people in 1993 in Jamshedpur, at a time where jobs were considered for life and even your sons and daughters were guaranteed a job if you were loyal. The chapter covers how they did this in an unusual and costly way, but that ultimately paid off.


Boeing Bets Big on the 707

The chapter covers the history of Boeing’s decision to use military jet engine technology in the commercial airline sector and how this revolutionized the aviation industry.


IBM’s Operation Bear Hug

How IBM turned around their fate from the early 1990’s to their success today. This is the story behind Lou Gartner’s decision to take the first 100 days and get back in touch with customers and how it impacted the next set of business decisions. Nick named Operation Bear Hug – Gerstner and his lieutenants traveled the world talking to customers.


Wal-Mart’s Saturday Morning Meeting
Fifty years ago Wal-Mart was a single store, when founder Sam Walton made the decision to huddle his employees every Saturday to find out what was selling, what wasn’t and to review comparison sales figures. This meeting meant Wal-Mart perfected the art of learning fast and acting fast, and thus putting those days ahead of the competition. The chapter covers why Sam made the decision and its impact today.


Is your business in trouble? Pivot!

The background to Eli Whitney’s decision to create a system that transformed the gun making industry back in 1798. The result was he turned an artisan business where craftsman made guns by hand into a factory with unskilled labor mass producing a complex product through an assembly line.


The HP Way: Putting Trust Before Profit

How Silicon Valley icon HP established the overarching ethos known as the “HP way” back in the late 1930s. Shaping how many companies create their corporate cultures today. The chapter covers the history and how the focus on values built the company over the years. Unfortunately HP have lost their way and some will challenge this is because they moved away from the core of what made them strong.


The Single Greatest Decision of All Time

When Henry Ford raised the wages of his workers in 1914 from $2.50 to $5 per day, his move flew in the face of conventional wisdom. Changing the perception that laborers were drones to important assets and fueling the economy. As the workers had more money, they became consumers, and even able to afford the very products they were producing. The chapter shares the challenges and results of this decision. Suggesting in the end that current day India and China are facing the same challenges Henry Ford did 100 years ago.


I found the book easy to read, engaging and hugely insightful, however it didn’t make me want to run out and implement what the companies had done. Rather to think very carefully about all the decisions we are making in business right now and how some could be game changers for our business and industry.

Verne wants debate and discussion on the selected 18 decisions, plus what you think should have made the list. Share your views on their website, www.greatestdecisions.com - Hazel Jackson, CEO of biz-group
Listen to the podcast of Hazel Jackson on The Library, Dubai Eye 103.8 reviewing Verne Harnish's The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time
Also Read; Getting NAKED
 
The Strategist
Book Review of Cynthia A. Montgomery's The Strategist by Hazel Jackson

I was curious to learn from this book as Montgomery is an acclaimed professor at Harvard Business School who changed her perspective from the more traditional teaching of strategy to what she describes as a radical approach to the leaders role – ultimately that the leader must be a strategist.

Interestingly, I didn't find what she shared to be very radical at all. Montgomery references show that few authors before her have identified the need to focus on the leader rather than the strategy tools. As Jim Collins has been focusing on Level 5 leadership for over 10 years I thought this was a bit misguided.

Apart from disagreeing with Montgomery’s position that this was the bright shining new approach, I agreed with much of what she wrote about. She discovered what she shares when she started teaching a group of business men and women rather than Harvard graduates. It was a management boot camp for Entrepreneurs, Owners and Presidents (EOP). This shift meant, she needed to share practical tools that could be used in real businesses, and it moved her from the heavy theory based thinking to more leadership principles. Montgomery states “What’s been forgotten is that strategy is not a destination or a solution. It’s not a problem to be solved and settled. It’s a journey. It needs continuous, not intermittent, leadership. It needs a strategist”. She challenges that a lot of companies have created strategy departments and these now drive the strategy whilst leaders take a back seat or superficial role.


“No matter how hard you and your people work, no matter how wonderful your culture, no matter how good your products, or how noble your motives, if you don’t get strategy right, everything else you do is at risk.”

The key question that links all the chapters is “Are you a strategist?” Intriguing, this spurs you on as a leader to check out your capability and thinking against what she covers in 148 pages and 8 chapters.

So what does it take according to the author and what key lessons were insightful for me.

1. Understand your Industry
  • Understand the competitive forces in your industry. How you respond to them is your strategy. That means if you don’t understand them, your strategy is based on luck and hope
  • Find a way to deal with your industry forces. It may mean skillful positioning, deliberate efforts to counter negative forces or exploit favorable ones, or even a timely exit. Don’t be trapped into believing your superior management will carry you to success
  • Don’t underestimate the power of these forces; their impact on your destiny may well be as great as your own
Key Learning

Understand your industries forces. She shares a relative industry profitability chart that shows how different industries operate. No matter how good your business idea, you need to factor in the relative industry advantages and disadvantages, and unless you can find a way to fundamentally change one of these you will play within those normal boundaries. There are 5 elements you can map against your business in the following continuum table:

             Unattractive…                                                                                 …Attractive
High. Many homogeneous competitors and homogeneous products. Innovations quickly copied. Slow growth. Excess capacity. Price competition Rivalry among firms Low. One or a few dominant, differentiated players. Unique products. Strong brand identities. Rapid industry growth. Shortage of capacity
High. Industry is dependent on a few, concentrated suppliers producing unique products, and industry is not important source of profitability to suppliers Power of Suppliers Low. Many suppliers producing homogeneous products. Price competition and plentiful supply make it easy to procure supplies at a reasonable cost.
High. Customers have lots of choice among similar products. Low levels of brand awareness. Low switching costs. Low levels for emotional involvement with purchase Power of Customers Low. Products are scarce, highly differentiated, and important to customers’ well-being. Customers have limited choice. Brands are strong
Low. Industry is easy to enter and sometime difficult to exit, creating excess capacity. Strategies of existing competitors can be easily replicated or surpassed. Entry requires low levels of capital, modest scale, and no scarce or specialised resources Barriers to entry and exit High. It is difficult or not economical for new firms to enter your industry. Entry requires economy of scale, product differentiation, high capital investment, regulatory approval, or accumulation of special expertise or experience.
High. Wide variety of compelling substitute products are available that meet customers’ needs at attractive prices Availability of substitute products Low. Customers have few or no choices of alternative products that could meet their needs at comparable prices

Where is your industry along each of these continuums?


1. Begin with Purpose and Turn your Purpose into Reality

Defining your purpose takes time and thought. A good one can make all the difference to the success of your business. It sets the stage for value creation and capture.

There are some interesting perspectives on how you expand value creation – but creating a greater differentiation between What Customers are ‘Willing to Pay’ and what your suppliers are ‘Willing to Charge’. Plus a nice thought provoking question is to challenge whether you have the right purpose:


“If your company disappeared today, would the world be different tomorrow?”


The big case study in the first half of the book is all about the furniture business. How many companies had failed in this highly competitive, low yield business, and how IKEA had changed the game with their approach.

She then delves into Gucci’s history and how they grew, stumbled and turned the business around. The story is written in a very engaging and interesting manor. She takes the message of purpose and shows first how a purpose that worked from the 1920-1970s, was no longer viable and how after many false starts and errors, changing the purpose and positioning of Gucci saved the company and the brand.

I found the Strategy Wheel an interesting approach to connecting all facets of a business and all departments back to the purpose. It would be an easy tool for any leader to orchestrate and would help every employee visualise their contribution to success.

The final element of this chapter is the importance of Execution and the realisation that the strategy is worth nothing if you don’t drive execution. Also that execution is not one big event, but rather a series of lots of little things, prioritised and aggressively action.

2. Own your Strategy

I have to say I was going through the motions reading this book by now. There are a few gems of learning but you have to dig hard for them.

When writing your strategy, don’t under estimate the power of language. Getting the words developed correctly so you can communicate to others in a clear way.

This whole chapter repeats much of what she covered before, remphasising the importance of owning your purpose. She then recommends people to write a strategy statement, I have to say I disagree with some of the examples provided, they seem wordy and generic. I’d have liked some more punchy short statements that embellish a one word purpose - this was the start of the end of the book for me.

3. Keep it Vibrant

This chapter was a mini book on Apple and Steve Jobs – I kept hoping for a new insight or revelation as to why she had written 23 pages about their history. There wasn't one.
I got a couple of intriguing strategic questions from the chapter though – some great ones to ask at your next strategy meeting:
  • “If you had to cut half of your products, what would you do?”
  • “If money was no object, what would you do?”
This chapter underneath the long Apple story, was keep your strategy iterative, it is not solved in one brainstorm meeting or once a year. You need to constantly evaluate and update your thinking.

Zeroing in on one competitive advantage and expecting it to be sustainable misrepresents the strategist’s challenge. It encourages managers to see their strategies as set in concrete and, when spotting trouble, to go into defensive mode, hunkering down to protect the status quo instead of rising to meet the needs of a new reality.

4. The Essential Strategist

This chapter was vague and repetitive – it was about taking control, staying agile and getting your team onboard.

The whole concept of the book is for the leader to take ownership of the strategy. I did buy into this principle and realised how important it was for me as a business owner to stimulate and drive the strategy.

Also to ask – “What kind of company do you want yours to be?”

Montgomery’s final words on the topic:

Articulating and tending to a living strategy is a human endeavor in the deepest sense of the term. Keeping all parts of a company in balance, while moving an enterprise forward, is extraordinarily difficult. Even when they have substantial talent and a deep appreciation for the job, some leaders ultimately don’t get it right. Their legacies serve as sobering reminders of the complexities and responsibilities of stewardship. On the other hand, it is exactly these challenges that make the triumphs so rewarding.

“Are you a strategist”?

- Hazel Jackson, CEO of biz-group
Listen to the podcast of Hazel Jackson on The Library, Dubai Eye 103.8 reviewing Cynthia A. Montgomery's book The Strategist
Also Read; The Three Signs of a Miserable Job
 
Getting NAKED
Book Review of Pat Lencioni's Getting NAKED by Hazel Jackson

Just when I thought I’d read all Pat Lencioni’s books, another simple one comes along to prove me wrong. It was also a book that I had on my shelf for over a year and had completely forgotten about, until a business partner recommended it.

A thought provoking and challenging concept, Lencioni models the principle and story on how he has built his own consulting practice. Although you only learn about this later, it is a great example of learning from someone who has actually implemented the principles rather than just talking about them.

This book is written with his classic fable approach and you will learn about the principles through a story of two competing management consulting firms. The larger and more aggressive firms acquire the smaller boutique firm and the differences in culture and successes were explored. It turns out the smaller firm has a more profitable business model, happier staff and most importantly ecstatic clients who actually pay higher rates.

The lessons of this story, albeit initially focused in my own industry, have immediate application to any business that supports B2B client relationships, or provides consultative type services to individuals.

Although you can jump straight to the last 16 pages of the book that define Naked Service, the power of reading the story helps handle objections and challenges you think about as you contemplate implementing the principles.

Naked Service Model
At its core, Naked Service boils down to the ability of a service provider to be vulnerable; embracing uncommon levels of humility, selflessness and transparency for the good of the client.

This sounds simple but goes against many of the behaviours we have been taught when sitting in front of a client. The model claims that resisting the following three fears will enable you to build unparalleled trust and loyalty with clients.

#1 Fear of Losing the Business
What a client wants more than anything is to know that you are more interested in helping them than maintaining a revenue source.

Naked Service providers refuse to be overly concerned about the possibility of losing a client, or for that matter, being undercompensated or having ideas copied by the client. They are willing to expose themselves to these situations. Being this open and focused on the client not self, is repaid with trust, loyalty and in the story countless referrals. It reminded me of a quote I totally believe in by the late Zig Ziglar.


“If you help enough other people get what they want, you’ll get what you want”


#2 Fear of Being Embarrassed

A tough one for consultants who are in fact engaging with a client for their ideas and expertise, making a mistake in front of them is instinctively to be avoided. However Lencioni, points out the power of Naked Service provides asking questions and making suggestions that could be laughably wrong. Intellectual ego is not in the way, but a sense of curiosity to help discover new ideas, or perhaps understand jargon. Client’s trust them because they realise they will not hold back, hide their mistakes, or edit themselves in order to save face.

#3 Fear of Feeling Inferior
This is very similar to #2, but with some subtle differences. If #2 is about intellectual pride, #3 is about the need to preserve our sense of importance and social standing. It’s about ego. Naked Service doesn’t need to feel important in the eyes of the client; they purposefully put themselves in a lower position. It’s not about them; it’s about the client and helps them with their business or need.

In each of these fears there are some guidelines of what needs to improve over a more vulnerable, trustworthy service.
  • Always Consult Instead of Sell
    Rather than turning up having done heaps of research and already decided what the client needs, Naked Service providers start with a consultants approach and add value from the first meeting. Exploring needs through questions and providing some instant guidance and suggestions. This approach almost kick-starts the client relationship, before any contracts or fees have exchanged hands.
  • Give Away the Business
    Building on the first approach, give away advice and don’t worry about whether this means you’ll lose the deal or the client will take your ideas and run. They might not need your services now and can manage internally, but they will always come back to you and more importantly refer you to others.
  • Tell the Kind Truth
    When confronted with a difficult message, even when you know the client will not like hearing it and it could put the project at risk, fronting up and telling them anyway, because it’s the best thing for the client.
  • Enter the Danger
    When a topic is challenging and uncomfortable, Naked Service providers see this as a green light to get involved. It’s about having the courage to fearlessly deal with a situation everyone else is avoiding – the elephant in the room.
All four of these practices support removing the #1 Fear of losing the business.
  • Ask Dumb Questions
    Be the person to ask the questions everyone else in the room is thinking, but don’t have the courage to ask. Or just be the person who challenges the status quo. Some of your questions will have no future bearing on the client’s strategy or growth, but some will make difference. It is the latter questions that everyone remembers.
  • Make Dumb Suggestions
    Go beyond dumb questions, but challenge the business with some wild suggestions and ideas. There will be failures, and you will be embarrassed, but the time you come up with a great idea will eclipse all the others.
  • Celebrate your Mistakes
    No one likes to make mistakes but Naked Service providers go out of their way to put their hand up and admit an error. They take full responsibility for the mistake and the learning that has come from it.
  • Take a Bullet for the Client
    Taking a bullet does not mean enabling a client to do the wrong thing by blindly absorbing the blame for them. It’s about finding those moments when we can humble ourselves and take some of the burden off from a client in a difficult situation, and then confront them with the kind truth. Taking a bullet is counter cultural because we are encouraged in life to deflect responsibility for problems.
  • Make Everything about the Client
    Get your ego out of the way, it’s not about you or what you’ve done before; focus your full attention into the world of the client.
  • Honor the Clients Work
    Take an active interest in the clients business, even if you aren’t naturally passionate about their industry. You need to learn to be part of their team and that can’t be faked.
  • Do the Dirty Work
    Naked Service providers take on whatever it takes within the context of their services. It might not always been the exciting part of the job, but roll up your sleeves and get it done.
  • Admit Your Weaknesses and Limitations
    This principle is perhaps the most general and all encompassing. It’s one thing to admit a single mistake; this is about sharing general weaknesses or limitations.
There is an important point to remember, that vulnerability is not an excuse for incompetence. But when an individual is competent at their job but can embrace the 3 fears and principles supporting them, they will build a huge amount of loyalty and trust. If a company culture supports this model, and gives permission for everyone to practice the principles you can build an amazing professional service firm that rivals the big boys!

- Hazel Jackson, CEO of biz-group
Listen to the podcast of Hazel Jackson on The Library, Dubai Eye 103.8 reviewing Pat Lencioni’s book Getting NAKED
Also Read; The Strategist
 
5 slick ways to market your small business

" If you want to grow your company in 2012, think a little bit different" - - Verne Harnish "The Growth Guy"

 

Find new ways to do 'free'

To attract small businesses to its new software, tech company Atlassian knew it had to offer something more intriguing than a free trial. Instead it gave very small firms use of the product for $10 and promised to donate that money to a global literacy charity -- inspiring many mentions on Facebook and Twitter. Since making the offer in 2009, it has raised $1.5 million for the charity, Room to Read. And it's sold about $8 million in products to customers trading up from the $10 package.

 

Offbeat invites

Jewelry designer Emily Armenta, who sells her designs in stores like Neiman Marcus, wanted to make sure key retailers scheduled a time to stop by her booth at a big trade show. So instead of phoning them, as many rivals do, the owner of Houston's Armenta Collection sent them a series of love notes, one with a recording of romantic Spanish music and another asking for a "date" at the show. Total cost: about $2,500. The 60-employee company walked away with orders from 15 new retail stores.

 

Get really crazy

Offer a unique To promote "Future M," a series of gatherings in Boston to discuss what's ahead in marketing, Bettina Hein, CEO of video marketing software firm Pixability, came up with a funny idea. She organized a group of about 150 local businesspeople to lurk around Copley Square and, after a secret signal, in broad daylight to burst into a dance they'd rehearsed. In exchange, she let these brave souls put their company logo on the video. "It's already brought us customers," says Hein

 

Explore social network niches

Answering questions on LinkedIn isn't the only way to attract prospects online. Candyce Edelen, founder of PropelGrowth, a New York City marketing firm focused on clients involved in capital markets, says that participating in specialized web communities -- like the trade site TabbFORUM, where she publishes commentary -- has helped her raise her profile among prospects. The firm saw revenue growth of 97% from 2009 to 2010

 

Kill them with courtesy

David Lefkovits, owner of LEFKO Renovations in Atlanta, avoids standard pitch letters. Instead, when he starts a home-remodeling project, he writes to the neighbors, saying that he wants to avoid inconveniencing them. He invites them to call him personally with any complaints. Many save his letters and, impressed by his courtesy, hire him later. The profitable four-year-old firm now has seven-figure revenue and sales growth of 20% to 40% a year

 

Read the full article "5 slick ways to market your small business" by Verne Harnish "Growth Guy" published on CNN Money

 
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