It’s one thing to resolve to find your center of gravity and entirely different thing to change it.
In fact, I’ll wager a bet that like most people and most companies, the problem lies not in intention but in doing. More specifically, knowing what you need to do and how to go about doing it.
You know you need to lose 10 pounds, improve your fitness level, save more money, increase family time, etc. Your organization knows it needs to increase revenue, reduce costs and improve its competitive advantage. However, when it comes to losing the weight or keeping it off or, on the business side, to finding new ways to move the revenue needle, we often fall short.
As creatures of habit, we tend to go about our New Year’s resolutions or fiscal-year planning activities in the same way. We don’t take the time to re-think or change our behaviors.
In fact, I’ll wager a second bet that those of you who made New Year’s resolutions this year not only made the same, or very similar, resolutions as last year, but you’re tackling them in pretty much the same way. Am I right?
Is it any wonder, then, that come February 1, most of us have abandoned our resolutions? Or some businesses stall over time? That IT departments get stuck in the muck?
Our center of gravity shifts. Yes, our literal and figurative bottom-lines change, and those of us (organizations, departments, and individuals) who recognize this and make the necessary adjustments in our doing will benefit more those that don’t. It’s really that simple.
In Tilt, Niraj Dawar explains how the center of gravity for organizations has shifted from upstream to downstream, from products to customers. Moreover, he talks about the change this shift necessitates in the way organizations “think about” and “do” business.
He urges business leaders to think less about “economies of scale” (i.e., how much more product we can sell – “what”) and more about “economies of scope” (i.e., what else do customers need – “how” and “why”). The goal is “getting inside the customer’s mind,” he says. And I couldn’t agree more.
While Dawar’s book may be intended for management teams (Tilt’s intended audience), I contend it’s a must-read up and down the organization… for IT departments… for data protection teams. The center of gravity of IT organization must also shift downstream to the customers (internal and external) it services. (More on this in my next post.)
How do you move your center of gravity?
First, you need to determine your current center of gravity. After all, you wouldn’t set a fitness goal without first determining your current fitness level, right? Okay, well, maybe some would, but best practice is to get a baseline of where you’re at so you have a realistic picture of where you need to go.
Some organizations may find that they are more upstream-focused than they thought; others may find some pockets of (upstream) strongholds and still others may discover that their infrastructures (people, process and technology) belie their intentions, to my initial point.
Whatever the case, the following three questions, pulled directly from Tilt, should help your organization get that baseline. They center on three areas: costs, value and competitive advantage:
- Where is the greatest burden of your fixed costs? Is it in your factory, in your R&D [upstream activities], or in [downstream] activities related to customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction?
- Which of your activities do your customers most value? Which activities are they most likely to pay a premium for? Which are the reasons for their loyalty? Where do these activities reside on the upstream-downstream spectrum?
- Where along the spectrum does your competitive advantage lie? What about your enduring differentiation?
Where does your organization fall? How customer-focused are you? Let me know what you find out @biggarhb, @emcbackup.