martes, 12 de febrero de 2008

Discovering the Soul of Service

I finished reading Discovering the Soul of Service by Leonard L. Berry and thought it was a great book. I’ve always wanted to start my own business or go after other business pursuits for the sake of making money. I learned that seeking for money is not the best goal for enduring business strength. Core values, focusing on customer needs, focusing on value, investing in employees and generosity all are much higher and nobler pursuits that will inevitably lead to success and ultimately satisfaction.
A successful service company first starts with never-changing core strategies. Some of which are excellence, innovation, joy, respect, teamwork, integrity, and social profit. “These values reflect what the leader holds worthy, what the organization assigns worth. They are the ideals, principles, and philosophy at the center of the enterprise. They are protected and revered. They reveal the company's heart and soul. They energize the covenant.” These values of excellence do not permit organizations to rest. Excellence keeps you awake, striving to improve and searching for ways to enhance competitiveness.
Next, the company should focus on serving a specific need rather than on marketing a specific product for that need. I feel that always focusing on the customer rather than the marketplace or competition is paramount. Identifying a need rather than a product allows the company to create an enduring path to follow. Successful companies are aware of what the competition is doing but they resist copying what they are doing. Instead, they focus on what the customer wants.
Service itself is so important in creating value to its customers to be able to compete. Value and price are not the same thing. Price is part of value but not its equivalent. Value is the total experience; price is price. Its value that customers want. The lack of physical differentiation among competing services encourages managers to overuse price as a marketing tool. When the products themselves can give customers non-price reasons for favoring one brand over another, services managers are limited to nonphysical means of differentiation. Managers frequently use price cutting to differentiate, which may lead to cost cutting and weaken execution. Preparing for intensified competition requires strengthening execution not weakening it. Many managers prefer price cutting because it can be implemented quickly and may be deemed more salient to customers. Without differentiation in quality, without superior total experience to offer customers, a company has few, if any, non pricing options when key competitors cut their prices.
The ability of adding this value to the service that a company provides comes down to the quality of its employees. A company must invest in their employee’s success by using strict hiring measures to find those employees whose values mach those of the company. Companies also instigate ownership attitudes in their employees. Helping the employee feel like they are part of something bigger, part of the team, and in the loop is essential. The more people know about the organization the more they will care. If there is anything a company can do to enhance communication with their employees they should do it. Those who truly invest themselves in the business expect to participate in the success and the company earns the employees trust in doing so. It isn’t hard work is not what defeats people on the job. What defeats people is work without personal growth, without teammates, without kindness, without meaning. The goal of making money in itself is not heartening.
All this investment with employees pays off in the end. A company that can’t maintain this trust with its employees can’t hope to maintain it from their customers. Employee turnover causes less money to be invested in employees which causes less satisfaction from the customers which continues to add to the problem of not having enough money to invest in employees. "The best-run companies find ways to leverage the flexibility intrinsic to the services they market. They accomplish this with strong values and thin policy manuals; with well-selected, prepared, and empowered service providers; and with systems that facilitate flexible execution. Flexible systems support excellent execution through service customization and adjustable capacity" The degree that strong values can guide employee’s behavior, companies can function with fewer rules. I like the idea of being guided by two categories of rules: those that can’t be broken under any circumstances, and those that can be bent or broken depending on the circumstances.
Generosity is the secret weapon for success. Working for a generous company gives the employees pride which in turn, builds pride in themselves. “Humane values power great service companies; generosity continually reinforces and enriches these humane values. When the product is a performance, winning the hearts of the performers helps companies win the hearts of their customers.” Selfish companies cannot serve. Making money is not enough. It is more important to positively influence the broader community.
Wealth creation is too small a pursuit. If fails to fully unleash the human spirit in organizations, or fully tap into the natural generosity of the human heart. By generously sharing with society they talents, their leadership, and their money, excellent companies make a bigger more meaningful difference in the quality of life; win the hearts of their employees, customers, and other stakeholders, and become even more excellent companies.
I want to eventually become a real estate investor. Instead of going about it to become financially independent, although that is an attractive outcome, I want to go about it with the attitude of helping someone in need of a good place to live be able to live in a quality, affordable home. As an advertisement salesman I want to help businesses succeed. As a small business owner I want to serve those with the talents that I have.

12 comentarios:

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Thanks for the book suggestion - I love new books!

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