Customer-Focused Change: The Quest for Alignment, Synergy & Results

"Our organization isn't working as well as it needs to be. Things aren't bad. They just aren't great. Where should I begin?"

Every leader has this feeling at some point even if they have never given voice to the question that nags at them like a common cold that can't be shaken.

The answer often points to a lack of alignment and synergy that is draining energy away from making customers successful and delivering results. You may have noticed a few of the symptoms in organizations where you work or lead:

  • There is a general feeling that everything is harder than it should be. Competition has improved, but honestly, some of it is that we are locked into doing things the way we've always done them.

  • Projects are falling through the cracks. No one is intentionally dropping the ball. It is just that there are times when it feels as if everyone is responsible and no one is responsible.
  • Departments and teams are operating in silos. One group doesn't know what the other is doing. Well-intentioned action is being taken without anyone thinking about the impact of their decisions on others - including how it will affect the company as a whole.
  • Continually Hitting a Moving Target

    Just like exceeding your customers' expectations, your organization's effectiveness is a moving target in a dynamic environment where demands and competition increase every day. You are competing for the hearts and minds of your team just like you compete for the loyalty of your customers.

    The best leaders continually change to align the organization to meet the current realities. And, they do this with full knowledge that today's solution could be rendered obsolete tomorrow.

    This type of continual change requires you to remain--and help others remain--nimble and open to new challenges and opportunities. Here are three ideas to help you accomplish this important task:

    • Look outside yourself and help others do the same. The natural reaction to change is to focus internally on how the change affects you, your team, or your specific area. The stars in every field, however, are externally focused on what it takes for the entire organization to achieve success in a changing world. Acknowledging disrupted expectations is okay, but don't dwell there. Customer-focused change is about what it takes to make the organization successful with those it serves.

  • Focus on continually increasing the value you add. In times of intense uncertainty, people run toward value and values. Change happens naturally when we alter our focus from maintaining the status quo to looking for new ways to add value.
  • Explain (and ask) why - then focus on how. Contrary to popular belief, children - and especially teenagers - are not the only age group to ask "why" when a change is suggested. Change pushes us out of our comfort zone. Some find that exciting, but most of us want to know that there is a good reason to expend the energy and effort. However, there are some changes that are out of our control. In those situations, we are best served by focusing the majority of our attention on how to make the change work.
  • Change, Choice, and How We Think

    There are two constants: change and choice.

    Your customers' needs and demands are always evolving. Events, circumstances, and changes in the environment are often out of your control. As a leader, you will always be dealing with change, and past success only proves that you were once right.

    That reality leaves us with a choice--will we be a victim who complains about change or a leader who makes change work?

    The effectiveness of your response and the quality of your team's performance are determined by how we think about change in the moment of choice. We each create and sustain our own perception about any given situation. Your job is to manage your own thinking about the need for continual change and to create the environment where followers can do the same.

    Randy Pennington is an award-winning author, speaker, and leading authority on helping organizations achieve positive results in a world of accelerating change. To bring Randy to your organization or event, visit www.penningtongroup.com , email info@penningtongroup.com, or call 972.980.9857.