How do we make our work ‘Matter’? Key points after a good read
The way that we think, buy and work has shifted tremendously over the last decade. That we have been both driving and adapting to this shift is no surprise. But what is interesting is the way this shift is happening. On the one one hand, the digital landscape in which many of us now feel at home has pushed the door wide open for consumerism; making it easier to buy across the globe. With both the barriers to entry and cost of goods and services in many ways coming down – competition across industries is higher than ever. But how can quality businesses escape the morale-crushing cycle of commoditisation? In some ways we are buying more than ever too (thanks Amazon). However, there is a new breed of consumer emerging full-force, and rather than being driven by consumer culture – one of the key influencing factors is purpose.
Welcome to the purpose driven economy.
“People want to buy from, work for and partner with companies that matter. People want our communities to be filled with organisations and people that matter.”
This is the core premise from Matter: move beyond competition, create more value and become the obvious choice, coauthored by Peter Sheahan, Julie Williamson and Dom Thurbon. Becoming the obvious choice is split into into into 3 areas; elevated perspective, elevated relationships and elevated impact.
The question driving each page of the book is ‘what does it take to create more value?’ This is directed to everyone involved the eco-system of any business including customers, communities, investors and employees.
Let’s take a peek at some key takeaways from the book – if you want to discover all of the excellent examples of how different organisations have employed these winning strategies, then I recommend reading the book for yourself.
Create outcomes that are valued more than your competition
Elevating your perspective means changing how you matter to your customers. By challenging some of the assumptions that exist in your industry and the world of your customers, you can uncover new ways that you to add value. Our authors call this ‘your edge of disruption’. It’s no longer just enough to have the best of intentions, what are you actually going to do to bring about the change that your company, clients, industry and community needs to happen? Opportunities to create high value outcomes is ultimately what is going to set you apart.
Build elevated relationships
Elevated relationships come from successful integration of 3 dimensions. The first being having access to key influencers and decision makers, secondly you need to build partnerships with buyers and stakeholders and finally you must make meaningful connections across the whole board – think wider, who else does your brand touch and how can you bring them ‘lovingly’ into the fold?
Embodying this was a fascinating case study of a smaller known logistics company Lakeside which, after many years of competing for low-end deals decided to completely overhaul their entire operation for customers, moving from providing transport only to include shipping. Investing heavily in business analysis for customers at a significant cost, Lakeside could clearly demonstrate how much customers could save by making the switch. This allowed their clients to outsource their logistics function (to Lakeside) and focus on core business while saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The key message here it to play high. Once you develop your elevated perspective, there’s nowhere to move unless you have the ear and buy-in of elevated relationship partners. Who stands to benefit? Who will be in your corner?
When you’ve uncovered something transformative, the message here is that you will come across some who want to suppress what you are doing. If that’s the case, you may need to take it higher up the rungs of management.
Partner with your customers
There’s a vast difference between engaging with clients to achieve your goal, and partnering with clients to continue to have a meaningful, constructive dialogue. One is aimed at the short term end, and the other spans into building a long-term relationship that continues to be built on trust, best practice and excellence.
Make thought leadership a way of life
This means from the words you post right into how you develop products. Adopting this strategy means that everyone in an organisation has responsibility to think about the future. Content based on value-add insights is tailored to those who would benefit the most from the influence. Taking this standpoint allows organisations to expand beyond norms and challenge the fundamentals of their industry. Sounds rather aspirational, and in some ways it is. But the book goes on to highlight the example of tech company ET’s thought leadership focus as an organisation prior to purchase by Salesforce several years later. It’s prominence as thought leaders in the market lead to its acquisition at a time when Salesforce had first pickings of almost any business on the market. In the short – get your wider team to engage with content creation, capture insights on video and in blogs. Enhance your brand in the minds of the people who matter most.
Concept of elevated impact – what do you bring to your customers?
Finding ways to solve your customers’ high-order problems is what makes you matter. Finding these unique solutions to complex problems means becoming a disruptor in your industry and answering the call. For larger organisations, impact means holding space for what what you are trying to achieve. Impact is about doing the hard work and ensuring the benefits are far reaching, spanning from clients and then into communities. It’s ultimately about transformation and asks anyone brave enough to take a leap. It asks that we lean into the complexity of our industries as we unveil and practice new ways of doing things. Yes, this may even include a dreaded overhaul of the same-old-same-old ways of doing things.
A way to start thinking like this is to think about some of the changes you yourself would like to see within your industry. How could you adapt your business to stretch beyond that mould? If it’s challenging, instead of seeing the mould as a barrier perhaps we can see it as motivation. The important thing is to focus on the outcome.
It’s not enough to just operate in the field of status quo, it’s not enough to just carry on with business as usual, companies need to differentiate at a deeper level. This is an interesting read that can help any individual tap into their imagination and ask the all important questions – what can I do to add value? What can I do that will build and create a more positive impact for my customers and community?
At the very end of the text, the authors ask us all; whether an entrepreneur, small business owner or large conglomerate – to see the humanity and social side of what you do. Answering the call means working towards your best future self and work that aligns to real purpose. A mention of Joseph Campbell’s work also never goes astray!
To become the obvious choice you need to break the chicken and the egg dilemma. You need to hold your nerve and make the initial investments required to move to the edge of disruption, develop a compelling and elevated perspective, create valuable solutions based on that, and sell your solutions to higher order problems. You must show determination to sell only to those capable of saying yes to these solutions. Otherwise, you wind up distracted, burned out, and as a commoditised as everybody else.
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