Who are You and What do You Stand For ?

April 10, 2015

Last year we created the UniSA Centre for Business Growth to develop programs for CEOs and their executive teams that would help them grow their companies. We have assessments, tools, web-based learning, and face-to-face programs.

We send our participants homework that includes Drucker’s Five Key Questions: 1) Who are you? 2) Who is your customer? 3) What does the customer value? 4) How are you measuring what your customer(s) value – and whether you are delivering what they value? 5) What’s your plan to deliver more value to more customers?

In order to answer, “Who are we?” you need to have a clear set of values and understand how they impact your culture. Think about what Tony Hsieh did that made Zappos a dominant player in the online shoe store ecosystem – and worth the $1.2B that Amazon paid for them. Tony consciously and intentionally built a culture that embraced the business’s key values:

1) Deliver WOW Through Service 2) Embrace and Drive Change 3) Create Fun and a Little Weirdness 4) Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded 5) Pursue Growth and Learning 6) Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication 7) Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit 8) Do More with Less 9) Be Passionate and Determined 10) Be Humble

Employees were hired into entry-level positions and immediately went into a four-week training program. At the end of the second week they were offered $2000 to quit – and the offer was extended (to the people still there) at the end of the third week and the fourth week. Zappo only wanted committed employees!

Employees were challenged to suggest at least one improvement every week that would enable Zappo’s to better reflect its core values. Employees were expected to grow personally and professionally. There were 30 different courses created for employees, everything from how to answer the telephone, to stress management, financial planning, and leadership of the “tribe”. Long story short, Zappos attracted the most passionate employees who delivered outstanding performance and incredible customer service.

As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Understand that if you want to change your place in the ecosystem, you need to use your company’s strengths – which need to include employees who share the values that undergird the awesome culture in your company.