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Numbers, Customers, and Culture

There are a lot of things that go into building a successful organization. Here are three that should be at the top of the list for every organization.

Numbers – what numbers truly drive success for your organization? If you can’t name them off the top of your head it’s because 1) you’re too busy working in your organization and not leading it and/or 2) you have so many supposedly key numbers you can’t remember them all. Well-led organizations know exactly what 3-5 numbers are truly responsible for their success and focus their attention on them. They report on and monitor lots of other numbers, but everyone in the organization knows which ones really matter.

Customers – what do customers truly think of your product or service? If you don’t have an ongoing process that delivers empirical data (i.e. a number) to measure customer satisfaction then you really don’t know. Equally concerning to you should be the fact that you also don’t know whether you’re getting better or worse. Customer satisfaction is the key to long-term success. Many organizations look at churn rate or re-order rate as an indicator of customer satisfaction but you need to go deeper and consistently measure customer affinity.

Culture – what are the values upon which your organization truly operates? Most organizations have some type of values statement. Many display those values prominently around the office(s) and spotlight them from time to time. More times than not, however, those values are simply words because the values upon which the company truly operates are very different. Highlighting one set of values on your walls but operating by another will be viewed as hypocritical by your team and undermine your ability to navigate the tough times every organization faces at one time or another. That’s because culture – not strategy, capital, or anything else – serves as the foundation for weathering the storm. Just like with customer satisfaction, it’s critical that you have in place an ongoing process that delivers empirical data (i.e. a number) to assess how well your organization aligns with your stated values.

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