Sorting through some of my father’s tools yesterday, I ran into three old auger bits. Rusty as they are, they are impressive tools, intentionally designed, and carefully made by a metal-worker with one purpose in mind: to help a carpenter make a hole. Running my fingers over a 75-year-old, rusty bit, it was still surprisingly sharp on the edges, very capable of cutting through an 8 by 8 post today. The sharp and pointed smallest tip threads had been carefully forged to grab a crack in the hardes...Read More »
Whether you’re beginning a business from scratch, re-creating an existing organization, or looking to take a company from acceptable to extraordinary, there are three core principles that great operations share--core beliefs that impact management style, communications and use of resources. 1. Truth builds trust Knowing what is true is the basis for taking action, making any purchase or investment. When organizations seek and speak the truth at all times, regardless whether it’s good or bad new...Read More »
Can you think of the last time you were amazed by your experience as a customer? If it involved a product, its performance probably exceeded your expectations, time and time again. If it was a service, the personal contact most likely left you feeling like someone who matters, or amazed by the speed of service or the value you received for your money. Are your customers amazed by their experiences with your company? At The Valcort Group, we hear a lot of different answers from companies to this...Read More »
By Chuck Thomas, president, The Valcort Group Change has come to your company, division or unit. As the CEO, you’ve done all the research, all the strategy and planning, and the executive team is on board. Now, how do you get your broad employee base to change behaviors to better align to the customer and market? There is no quick fix. It’s quite impossible for employees to digest all the research and planning information with one email or one presentation. Remember, it took you months, or per...Read More »
The prerequisite of investment of time, money, and energy is a belief that what you invest in will be valued and will return a reward. This holds true whether in financial markets, relationships, charitable giving, or the sacrifice of time to serve. The return can be tangible or intangible, measured or perhaps a subjective feeling, experience, or simply the satisfaction of knowing that you “did the right thing.”
Any such transaction is based upon the presence of trust. Trust provides the investor with confidence that the investment once made will be valued and a reward will be received.
For thousands of years, our financial systems have been built upon this foundation of trust.
That trust is disappearing beneath our feet almost daily. It is time to do something about it.
Trust with any person or institution is based upon the Four Stages of Trust – shared values, shared vision, assumed responsibility and always delivering on your promise.
The bedrock of trust is shared values. These values are common heart-motivations and beliefs – values like honesty, fairness, generosity, hard work, and integrity.
Over the past 15 years, we have seen the erosion of these values by Boards, Directors, CEOs and COOs of organizations, institutions and companies we have trusted. We have trusted many of these organizations for decades, some even for centuries.
The values of hard work, honesty, fairness, generosity and service have been replaced by an unquenchable desire for power, accompanied by arrogance and greed. The fruit of this can be read in headlines over the last decade as district attorneys have exposed leaders of both public institutions and private corporations taking advantage of our collective trust to manipulate systems, regulations, traditions and inferred promises. It has become painfully evident they have done this to accumulate personal wealth. They have “gamed” the system and we have been left holding the bag.
Of course, erosion of trust has always been present. Historical records provide ample testimony of people in commerce, government and church who have manipulated systems for personal gain.
But not of the scale and breadth we have seen over the last 10 years. Trillions of dollars have been siphoned off, diverted into back pockets, sketchy bank accounts, and hidden by intricate systems and complexities.
The result is a people who are jaded and skeptical, if not cynical. The implication is that they have become victims and fools, manipulated by those in charge of a system of trusts, weights and balances. Most of these leaders and those who have yet to be caught couldn’t care less. It is precisely their avarice, arrogance and self-serving tendencies that perpetuate this destructive cycle. Is there no end?
With capitalism, the power resides with the consumer. Once bitten, the consumer can run away, tell friends and family, and perhaps call into question the trust, reputation and integrity of the organization and its leader. The result is a loss of customers and revenues. This has been the foundational basis for capitalism – the buyer’s trust that the seller will keep his promise.
Our system of capitalism and trust in each other is under assault.
It is time for CEOs and leaders of government organizations and nonprofits to step up and make a promise. It is time to once again state intentionally the values that are shared among the organization’s leaders, its representatives, its partners and its stakeholders to reweave together the fabric of trust. It is time to demonstrate that the values they hold consistently drive the choices they make, and to prove, indeed, that some of us are different. Some of us are trustworthy.
You know you need to grow. You need to innovate. And you need to change.
But how? To what?
What’s blocking your growth?
- Lack of internal trust?
- Missing a robust sales pipeline?
- Unable to sell value?
- A resistant culture?
- Misallocation of resources?
- Missing or outdated strategy?
- Misalignment with a changing market?
- No real innovation or product development plan?
In our experience, we’ve identified eight issues that indicate that your organization may be out of sync:
|1. Trust issues:||Trust in another means you’re willing to invest and take a risk with them. It is the glue for a team. A lack of trust in an organization is like throwing sand in the gears.
When trust breaks down, collaboration slows, complexity expands, and costs go up.
Trust is built upon shared values, shared vision, assumed responsibility and always delivering on your promise.
|2. Pipelines issues:||As organizations grow, strong sales talent rises to the top. A dependency upon the personal skills of individuals then creates relief when they can magically fill the pipeline.
Relying on individual heroics to make the sales quota creates crises, undermines morale, and puts customer loyalty at risk.
Great organizations nurture disciplined sales processes to create interest, engagement and demand. In this situation, the organization grows with the talents of a strong sales staff but is not held hostage by their personal client relationships. The company and brand have a predictable, sustainable process to fill the pipeline.
|3. Value issues:||Perceived customer value of an organization’s products and services is the foundation for pricing, loyalty, referrals and peer-to-peer advocacy. When value is low, lower pricing and commoditization occur. This is the beginning of a destructive cycle that you cannot win – the demand for continually lower prices. Low prices, while they may make a customer happy in the short term, can never be low enough.
When customers don’t recognize a unique value, engagement slows, loyalty disappears, pricing drops, margins fall, and advocacy is non-existent.
Great organizations are constantly listening and developing new ways to solve customer frustrations – in effect, delivering value. The value is communicated and reinforced at every point of customer contact.
|4. Culture issues:||At first, every organization starts out focused on meeting each individual customer’s needs. As organizations mature, they institutionalize to increase cost efficiency.
As organizations institutionalize, they lose flexibility. Entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and responsiveness are eroded in the interest of creating predictability.
With this strengthening of the organizational structure comes resistance to change, aversion to risk, and departmental silos that keep structures fixed and predictable.
A culture of self-preservation erodes transparency, cooperation, and creates silos.
Great organizations intentionally infuse a strong structure with creativity, breaking down existing barriers, encouraging new business ideas, and investing in emerging leaders.
|5. Resource issues:||There is never enough money, enough time and enough talent to take advantage of every opportunity that lies before the CEO. CEOs and COOs are tasked with identifying the best investment of these limited resources to produce the greatest long-term result. Without a roadmap to growth, loud internal voices with limited understanding can influence resource allocation and handicap growth.
Poor allocation of resources creates bottlenecks and uncertainty, limits emerging leaders and saps energy.
A great organization continually refines their growth strategy among their team to ensure that the investments they make will result in predictable growth.
|6. Strategy issues:||Markets constantly change and with them customer demand, opportunity and predictability. A focused growth strategy and roadmap are essential for deploying resources and tracking progress to goal.
Without a clear strategy, opportunity is overlooked, vision is obscured, and passion to grow is frustrated.
A great organization is continually refining their business growth strategy, analyzing market trends and the organization’s performance against short-term and long-term opportunities.
|7. Market issues:||As a leader, it is way too easy to see only the trees in front of you and lose the perspective of the forest. Consequently, your organization relies on the vision and understanding of your strategic leadership to point to the path of growth. If you’re out of step with the market, your entire organization can be lost. Disconnects are apparent at the field level, while the organization is focused on internal matters rather than customer opportunity.
Without the voice of the customer, fragmentation grows, innovation is lost, and staff blames others.
A great organization continually seeks the voice of the customer to ensure a reality check. They push this voice of the market down through the entire organization to ensure alignment with customers’ needs, to address their frustrations, and to seize emerging opportunities.
|8. Innovation issues:||Without innovation, every organization struggles with being commoditized. The heart of innovation is a clear understanding of the voice of the customer – their needs, frustrations and where opportunity lies.
When innovation slows, customers lose interest, differentiation is lost, margins fall, and competitors win.
A great organization pushes the voice of the customer down to every nook and cranny within the company. Employees, partners and staff hear, take notice and begin to think differently and creatively, about ways they can better serve the market. Innovation is the result.
The VALCORT Process is proven to address all these issue quickly, efficiently and effectively, providing a framework for internal trust, customer engagement, pricing to value, innovation and growth.
What’s holding you back? Take the ROI Survey now.
One of the most difficult tasks in leadership is pointing the ship and keeping it focused every day, week, month and year, upon reaching a critical destination. To review: Having a clear understanding the values and vision of the organization (V of VALCORT) is essential for creating trust and getting others to join in the quest. Without clarity of this, people can’t understand your direction, buy-in, and invest their own passion, time and energy in accomplishing the vision. Without clarity, its...Read More »
The core of growth is the ability to build and nurture trust. The Four Stages of Trust is the blueprint to guide anyone into a high-trust relationship that creates change and fuels growth. The Four Stages of Trust are: Shared Values Shared Vision Assumed Responsibility Always delivering on your promise In an organization, we will assume for the moment that we have established shared values with a customer, and following that we have moved on to discuss and define a shared vision (the V of...Read More »
While I enjoy a cup of coffee every day, I know that I need to drink water. Water sustains life, coffee is a substitute, albeit a fine one. Growing up in my father’s house, tea was always the beverage of choice. Now I have to say, my first impression of a swig of coffee was bitter, harsh, strong. It wasn’t my “cup of tea.” But I soon learned that wooing my wife required daily conversation over coffee, bread and cheese. And I acquired a taste for it that continues with a daily morning cup with m...Read More »
Lance Armstrong came clean and admitted that he had lied, bullied and annihilated people for the cause of winning sports events. Call it self-preservation, if you will, but it became apparent that to him that winning is not worth compromising everything.
In fact, as the stories unraveled, it became apparent that the admiration of fans, his economic stability, and his competitive opportunities were drying up as people came to realize they couldn’t trust him. In other words, winning isn’t everything.
Celebrities, politicians, leaders believe they have earned people’s trust and then too often betray it, with personal gain eroding personal integrity. The decisions and actions one takes reveal where anyone’s values lie.
Trust is funny that way. People want to trust those that have risen to stature and success. We believe that they share our work ethic, our sense of right and wrong, and our commitment to loyalty and integrity. We found out Mr. Armstrong did not.
Mr. Armstrong found out that what he values, namely winning and dominating at any cost, is not the primary value held by people who generally admired him. Fairness, loyalty, integrity once again has been proven to be more important to us as a society than even a disciplined work ethic, remarkable physical achievement and winning at any cost.
In the end, while being recognized world-over for his outstanding achievements and showered with millions of dollars, he’s actions revealed he was morally, relationally and ethically bankrupt.
The good news is that we are a forgiving people. If Mr. Armstrong turns and takes action to reveal personal remorse, nurturing personal values of loyalty, humility, service, and integrity people we be willing to trust him once again. Does he have the will to learn from this? Is he disciplined enough to change?