The more things change…
Recently, I was reviewing a case study from the Harvard Business Review titled “Stick to the Core or Go for More?” The central question is a common one for businesses large and small: should we focus on what we know or expand our breadth and depth of services to serve customers in new ways.
A quick review of the business literature on this subject reveals a surprising dichotomy. Seems we go through cycles of thinking, with as many business experts citing the need to diversify as there are insisting that we stick to what we know and build on strength. What is a business owner to do?
Well here’s a thought. In NAPL’s Leading Companies research, a common theme emerges. Seems the most enduringly successful companies in our industry take their lead from their customers-make that their best customers. Understanding the plans, aspirations, concerns, opportunities and strengths of the organizations with which they enjoy the greatest impact goes a long way in helping them determine the products, services and programs in which they will invest.
It also helps that enduring success includes a periodic, objective review of your own concerns, opportunities and our strengths. Taking the time with your management team (one full day once or twice a year; more frequently if you are processing change at a more rapid rate) can provide meaningful insights and bring much-needed focus to the direction your organization needs to take.
Finally, external scanning is part of the planning discussion. In our hyper-competitive environment, it is critical to know your competitive position in the market place. Customer research such an the eKG Competitive Edge Profile can provide great insights here and help you find out if you are stack up against your competition in areas that matter most to your best customers.
“Stick to the core of go for more?” Start with your customers, your unique strengths and your competitive position.