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Why you must keep asking "Why?" until you understand why
on 23 April 2013
In his book Begin with Why, Simon Sinek asserts -- and I agree -- that individuals as well as organizations must have a crystal clear sense of purpose or it will be very difficult (if not impossible) for them to decide what to do and how to do it. If they have the right purpose, it will guide and inform their decisions and, meanwhile, inspire and then sustain their efforts. Sinek suggests that the Golden Circle [i.e. beginning with WHY at the center, then proceeding to determine HOW to produce WHAT] "helps us to understand why we do what we do. [It] provides compelling evidence of how much more we can achieve if we remind ourselves to start everything we do by asking why."
Richard Weylman fully agrees. In fact, he wrote this book to help business leaders to answer the most important "why" questions and solve the most serious problems so that they and their companies can break out in a competitive marketplace. "That's our goal here: to elevate your business performance and presence so that you are the best and only choice for your product and services -- regardless of your geographic footprint or your vertical or target markets."
Early on, Weylman poses three important questions for his reader to consider:
1. "Why are your customers buying from you right now?"
2. "Are your customers staying with you or shopping around, and if the latter, why?"
3. "What is it about your competition's relationship to their customers that you haven't figured out yet? Why are they so successful?"
Having obtained preliminary answers, the reader can then take full advantage of the wealth of information, insights, and counsel that Weylman provides to help her or his organization become much more customer-centric. Only then, with a much better understanding of customer perceptions and expectations, can the organization complete the difficult process of breaking out in its marketplace, differentiating itself with a competitive advantage whose nature and extent will be determined by the nature and extent of its customer centricity.
Breakthrough initiatives require results-driven leadership. "Now let's plunge into nitty-gritty, the best practices I've developed from years of consultation and experience in the field, what I call the rules of engagement for having your customers define your Unique Value Promise. There are eight "rules" and Weylman discusses each in an extended passage, Pages 42-53. They are best revealed within the narrative, in context. I also presume to suggest that you consider what Fred Reichheld characterizes as "the ultimate question," one that can be asked of all customers to determine your organization's Net Promoter Score (NPS). Customers who give the highest ratings would be those you ask to evaluate your organization `s Unique Value Promise. Of equal importance, their responses will suggest which modifications of it (if any) need to be made.
These are among the dozens of other passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the range of Weylman's coverage:
o The Value of Our Preliminary Answers (Pages 5-8)
o The Obvious Answer Is Not the Answer (15-17)
o How Customers React to a Unique Value Promise (30-32)
o Forward Thinking Firms That Use Unique Value Promises (33-38)
o Developing a Promise-Driven Team (63-65)
o The Importance of Well-Planned Promotion Is Obvious (77-79)
o Personalizing Your Unique Value Promise (80-82)
o Little Things That Make a Big Difference (84-92)
o Finding Out What People Really Want (105-106)
o Moving from Discovery to Disclosure (110-114)
o The Keys to Brilliant Advantage-Based Selling (116-117)
o Revisiting Fundamentals (124-132)
Also noteworthy are the four mini-case studies that Weylman includes: "The Upscale Financial Firm" that requested to remain anonymous, Kelron Logistics, The Mount Paran Church, and The Conklin Company (Pages 136-150). The "do's and don'ts" lessons to be learned from these real-world situations -- as well as those described in Chapter 3 (Pages 33-38) -- are relevant to almost all other organizations, whatever their size and nature may be. Readers will also appreciate Weylman's skillful use of various "Action Points" in Chapters 2-9 that serve as a self-diagnostic while suggesting how to apply whichever insights and recommendations are most relevant to the reader's own needs, interests, concerns, resources, and strategic goals.
Before concluding his book, Richard Weylan reiterates that the #1 objective is "never again blend in. To sustain your breaking away from the pack in a competitive marketplace, it's essential that you elevate your service and customer interactions so that you no longer just have satisfied clients. but delighted advocates instead," what Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba characterize as "customer evangelists." I'll take them one step further and suggest that most of the companies annually ranked among the most highly regarded and best to work for are also among those annually ranked the most profitable with the greatest cap value in their respective industries. Why? Because they hire, develop, and retain "employee evangelists" who are purpose-driven.