Thursday, March 31, 2016

Consequence-based Strategy



#TheFundamentalKeys

Modern Businesses, especially established brands, get so caught up in the pressure of being competitive that they want to be agile and quick to respond to any situation in the public domain. So, they quite often end up not thinking beyond the usual brand communication, image management, etc. Or, they are so enamored by the feel of their own successes and the dominance of their brand that they tend to overlook simulating some basic ‘what-if scenarios’.

Consequently, even if there is some kind of Plan B for worst-case situations, there is a predisposition to hastily roll out the alternative plan to handle the situation in the misdirected sense of confidence of having a plan.

A case in point is the recent Apple v FBI imbroglio. Most readers might know about it, however, to encapsulate, FBI wanted Apple’s help to hack an iPhone belonging to a person of their interest. Apple declined, citing data security and customer privacy.

Granted that security and data privacy are paramount to a customer and that they are mandatory, if not differentiating, features in today’s connected world. But, if the executives at Apple had only thought through the scenario they could have turned this into a big win for them without losing any credibility, rather than being seen as stonewalling with customary justifications. It seems counter-intuitive, but how?

Let’s say that Apple agreed to help the FBI as a special case by providing know-how and resources to crack the phone to access the critical data. If the exercise didn’t succeed, Apple would have come out if this smelling of roses. It is like “hey, we helped the government, but the security on the phone is so good that even we couldn’t crack it”. Result – the government is thankful for the cooperation and iPhone users feel secure.

On the other hand, if they did manage to hack into the phone, Apple would still have come out if this smelling of roses. It is like “the data on the phone is so secure that it took experts with specific privileges, under special circumstances to crack it”. ”. Result – the government is happy for the help and iPhone users feel secure in the comfort that their phone cannot be randomly hacked.

Instead what has happened is that the federal agency has managed to access the phone data without Apple’s help. And Apple wants to know how they did it and could they share if a new vulnerability was found in iOS by the FBI and its partner!  Arguably, it has left users wondering about the security of their phone.

Now, this situation perhaps could have been avoided easily with some brainstorming and weighing the consequences of impending actions to build a strategy that can be advantageous to you in any event. Somewhat like negotiation 101 where the objective is to ensure that all parties walk off the table with a feeling of having won.

To summarize, the customer is king and you have to stick to your commitments. And you cannot be second-guessing your decisions. But, it is always important to think through consequences of critical actions before making decisions so as to ensure that you come out winning every single time.

Kall Ramanathan
@KallRamanathan

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author are personal. Companies, agencies, persons or brands mentioned are solely for illustrative purposes and to provide perspective, and therefore bear no association with each other or the narrative in any way. Trademarks and names rest with the respective owners.
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ValueStrat Consulting @ValueStrat helps businesses understand where they are currently and what they need to do to get where they want to go. For this, we provide essential strategic plans and approaches, called "Keys", to enable businesses to open up competencies and clear inefficiencies.

ValueStrat gets to the DNA of business - Desire, Need and Ability - to help you ask some critical questions such as discussed above. Check out http://www.valuestrat.in for more

Monday, November 2, 2015

Do CEOs Value Investors more than Employees?




Who Comes First?


A company is operated by its employees, run by a CEO, financed by investors, and so on. In this matrix of varying types of stakeholders, we thought that it would be stimulating to find out who was considered to be the most important in the eyes of the different individuals.

To understand what perceptions people had, ValueStrat Consulting and Customer Value Foundation conducted a survey on corporate executives and asked 4 basic questions as follows:

1.       Who comes first in your view?
2.       Who comes second, in your view?
3.       According to you, who does your CEO consider comes first?
4.       According to you, who does your CEO think comes second?

All questions are to get the views of only the executive. In the first two they give their view and in the 3rd & 4th they give what they think their CEO’s view was.

The results of the survey are as follows:

 Executives’ view of who comes first and second

We found that 71% or nearly three-quarters of those surveyed felt that according to them, the Customer comes FIRST while about a fifth (21%) felt that the Employee comes First.

Just over half (54%) executives felt that the Employee came second while a quarter (24%) felt that the Customer comes second.

This is a very interesting point because it means that a staggering 95% or almost all of them respondents felt that the Customer comes first or second in their scheme of things. Also, according to 75% of the executives, employees were in the top two important entities.

Conclusion: In the view of the respondents, the Customer is on top, followed by the Employees

Now let us look at what the executives thought their CEO’s view was. We did this by asking how they thought their CEO would answer the same 2 questions, and here are their answers:

What Executives thought their CEO’s view of who comes first and second


45% of the executives felt that their CEO would think that the Investor comes first while 42% would put the customer first. Only 9% put the employees first.

Bottom Line: Surprisingly (or not), we can discern a distinct disparity between what executive felt about who is important and what they thought their CEO considered important. And they clearly felt that their CEO thought nothing much of their employees. That they cared more for their investors than their employees!

The results are startling in that the executives did not share the views they felt their CEOs had. This is a huge disconnect between executive thinking and their perception of CEO thinking! This being the case, it is imperative that the company takes measures to remove this perception-gap and align the processes for better efficiency and profitability.

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ValueStrat Consulting @ValueStrat helps businesses understand where they are currently and what they need to do to get where they want to go. For this, we provide essential strategic plans and approaches, called “Keys”, to enable businesses to open up competencies, create value and deliver profitability. ValueStrat gets to the DNA of business - Desire, Need and Ability - to help you ask some critical questions such as discussed above. Check out http://www.valuestrat.in for more

Customer Value Foundation (CVF) helps companies to Create Value for the employees, business partners, customers and society and thereby for shareholders. Visit www.customervaluefoundation.com to know how to help your company Create Value.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Question of Value


Let us start by trying to define Value, and by this I don’t mean value as in ethics. So, if you put your mind to work, even without trying too hard, you might come up with Value as:

·         The worth of something
·         The fee or price for something
·         Something of importance or significance, etc.

These are not entirely incorrect and there might be these plus many more different descriptions that you could come up with if you tried a little harder to define Value. You won’t be far off the mark, but if you look close enough at these statements, you will find that there are two implicit factors that are common across the set:

1.       The explanations are as perceived by the recipient of the item or service; and
2.       The degree of value is proportional to the quantum of perceived or experienced benefit

Therefore, combining the two descriptions, we could perhaps come up with a simple yet powerful definition of value, as below:

“Value is the amount of benefit received”

“Not so fast” you might say and add, “why not simply say ‘Value is the amount of benefit’ and leave it at that because, surely the amount of benefit received is the same as the amount of benefit delivered?”! The counter to that is that the amount of benefit received turning out to being the same as the amount of benefit delivered is not true always, except when you tailor the delivery of value to exactly to the expectation of the recipient. Otherwise, even if you think that you are delivering more value, if the receiver doesn’t think so, then there is not net value created.

The implicit but very important factor here is that the beneficiary almost always determines whether value has been created or delivered, and, by the same token, whether value has been destroyed or under-delivered. For example, if a person receives a simple birthday greeting text message from a friend on the birthday, they might value that more than a box of chocolates sent a week or so later. Of course, in personal relationships one could always talk and sort things out, but in business, it is a little more complicated because it is a commercial transaction between remote parties.

So, now that we know that “Value is the amount of benefit received” and that since the beneficiary sets the benchmark, is it not imperative that when, as a business, you want to create and deliver value to your customers, you should find out exactly what the customer wants? Also, it seems pretty straightforward that if you ask the customer and deliver to their expectations, you should be on track. Perhaps, but the only hitch is that consumer behavior is not linear and therefore complex to understand and the expectations of a customer can be dynamic and manifold based on a multitude of factors. 

Therefore, given this scenario, it is vital for businesses to have a continuous “conversation” with the target beneficiaries to understand their current state of expectations and be one step ahead in delivering to those expectations. This is a reliable way to create & deliver value and be profitable.

Let’s go, create and deliver value!

ps: Stay tuned for my next piece on the type of “conversations” businesses can have that would give a more dependable idea of what customers expect.

Kall Ramanathan
@KallRamanathan
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ValueStrat Consulting @ValueStrat helps businesses understand where they are currently and what they need to do to get where they want to go. For this, we provide essential strategic plans and approaches, called “Keys”, to enable businesses to open up competencies, create value and deliver profitability.

ValueStrat gets to the DNA of business - Desire, Need and Ability - to help you ask some critical questions such as discussed above. Check out http://www.valuestrat.in for more