Monday, September 17, 2018

No End Game in Business

Sports analogies for business are wrong. This was the intriguing point Simon Sinek recently made in a leadership summit. In his talk, he used some war analogies, which might be closer...but not quite.

In business, we're involved in an "Infinite Game". However, we think we're in a 'finite' game, one with:

  • clear rules, 
  • defined ways of keeping score and knowing if you're ahead, 
  • clear playing field, and 
  • known opponents who're following the same rules.
When we apply sports analogies, we think business is conducted this way. In modern war--especially guerrilla warfare--many of these sports analogies don't apply. Instead, like the North Vietnamese in the 1960's and 1970's, they were playing for the long-term. Even though they were 'losing' by many scorecards--e.g. casualty rates 40x greater than the US--they outlasted the US because they were in an Infinite Game:
  • rules change all the time
  • there's no ahead or behind; there's only getting better at your efforts
  • as strategy changes, the playing field boundaries change
  • unknown opponents and allies
In an Infinite Game, an ideological rival is of more value to you than a tactical rival. An ideological rival is one that challenges why you're still in business. A tactical rival only challenges how you do your business and what business you decide to grow. The corporate culture that will help your team succeed at the Infinite Game:
  • Just Cause: the purpose, vision of your business stated in the affirmative, is inclusive, resilient to changing conditions, is customer-focused and is defined such that all members of your organization know how they can meaningfully and significantly contribute;
  • Trusting Teams: a high level of organizational trust is needed to progress (and is especially important for engagement on the mission of the organization) and is evident when people are open about mistakes, doubts, and needing help;
  • Worthy Rival: one who pushes you to get better than you were yesterday, because they too are focused on getting better against their own performance and not focused on you (Sinek says he knew Microsoft was in trouble when they were focused on beating Apple and Apple was focused on providing better customer experiences for people using digital devices);
  • Existential Flexibility: the Why won't change, but the How and What may e.g. Wells Fargo is still in the connecting people, money and goods and the How changed from stagecoaches to banking
  •  Courage to Lead: to go into new territory of behavior, marketing, development, autonomous teams ("trust your people enough to believe they know when to break the rules"--Sinek)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Hospitality in Every Business?

Danny Meyer was provocative in a recent leadership summit. He said that every business needs to include hospitality in their offering. He also stated that excellent or perfect technical execution, including service elements, only gets you 49% of customer loyalty whereas the other 51% is hospitality--that ability to communicate "we're on your side". In his book, Setting the Table, hospitality is the art of making one feel important and wanted.
"...nothing else is as important as how one is made to feel in the business transaction. Hospitality exists when you believe the other person is on your side...Hospitality is present when something happens for you. It is absent when something happens to you. Those two prepositions--for and to--express it all...Service is the technical delivery of the product. Hospitality is how the delivery of the product makes its recipient feel. Service is a monologue...Hospitality, on the other hand, is a dialogue. To be on the guest's side requires listening to that person with every sense [editor's emphasis here], and following up with a thoughtful, gracious, appropriate response. It takes both great service and great hospitality to rise to the top."
Service only gives you an advantage for two minutes, and it can be copied by others. What can't be taught but can be modeled and celebrated is empathy, the listening with all senses. "Customers aren't always right, but they always want to be heard," Meyer says. And when mistakes happen, he runs the A's:

  • Awareness of the mistake
  • Acknowledgement
  • Apology
  • Action
  • Application of additional generosity

Meyer is in a high turnover business--restaurants. His principles can be/should be applied to our employees. They always want to be heard. In fact, Meyer says, the organizational leader is like a skipper in the stern of the boat; he/she has to listen to the people on the bow, on the front lines regarding the conditions of the business. If you apply hospitality within your organization, you will have high engagement. People join organizations but they leave bad managers. A leader who can make the employees feel  heard, valuable because of their contribution, help them to be better contributors and as people of intelligence and talent will have employees who want to be at work.