We all know we need to focus on creating and delivering value in organisations.
But what do we mean by “value”? And how do we retain focus on the right kind of value, as we go through extreme change?
In this fourth blog in our change series, we’ll share our thinking on how organisations can maintain a laser focus on value when delivering change.
The key to this? An adaptive approach to delivering value.
What do we mean by “value”?
Indulge me for a moment, with a story.
My house currently has a leaking roof: it’s horrendous when we go through rainy periods (as we’ve recently done). It’s extremely important – valuable – to me to get this fixed.
However if one day my house found itself on fire, fixing that leaky roof would be infinitely less valuable than putting out that fire.
Value is contextual. It is relative.
Let’s now throw in some differing perspectives: in the aftermath of the fire, I want to focus on recovering and protecting our few surviving possessions while my partner wants us to focus on finding us accommodation for the night.
I’m optimising for longer-term financial security, while my partner optimises on our immediate physical security. Both are important.
Value is personal. It is relative to a specific point in time. It is relative to specific outcomes that aren’t always comparable.
So what does this mean for us as business leaders?
As we navigate the challenges we face from both outside and within our organisations, we need a nuanced, adaptive approach to defining and delivering value.
Get better at defining the “right” kind of value
As leaders, we need to concurrently lead from 2 horizons: now and later. Reject the false equivalence that we should only protect our present-day propositions at the expense of creating propositions that will be profitable in the future. Leverage the thinking and portfolio investment practices of organisations who do this well.
We need to define customer and business outcomes for these multiple horizons, taking into account multiple perspectives. By making our inferences and assumptions explicit, we can reduce the battle of opinions amongst CXOs that inevitably results in conflicting organisation goals.
Further to this, we should reject the temptation to only set revenue targets as primary goals for teams to achieve. Business experiments must be diverse and must comprise workforce wellbeing, direct revenue increases (eg pricing changes) and indirect revenue increases (eg via the creation of new forms of customer value). It’s this holistic approach which cements our longer-term viability.
Get better at adapting to change
The role of leadership is crucial here. How leaders act in a crisis is one of the biggest indicators and influencers of how organisations respond to change. Leaders need to be responsive, rather than reactive. Responsiveness is deliberate, considered and focused on a broad set of outcomes. Reactiveness is instinctive, narrow in focus and optimises for relieving personal fear and anxiety.
Do leadership teams have the support of a business coach? Do they regularly create time away from fire-fighting, to plan, think and focus on strengthening their working partnerships?
Leaders need to create space to regularly extract themselves from the day-to-day and take a step back, adopt a macro view of their teams and the world around them. Quarterly offsites where leaders speak directly with customers, immerse themselves in trends and other macro insights are a fantastic way to create those lightbulb moments that inform a clear, unified strategy.
What is even better is when leadership teams set working assumptions about the future. Simple yet powerful, these assumptions help teams anchor to some loose vision of the future, whilst providing context around why the business strategy is what it is.
By adding future-back thinking to their toolkit, leaders can motivate their teams with an inspiring vision and empower them to come up with creative ways to create value for customers, employees and shareholders alike.
Is that it?
And while we can set a clear approach to navigating change, this is clearly far from easy. A focus on value is just one of 6 foundations for creating sustainable change in organisations.
We will uncover these 6 foundations of change, at our ‘Secret of the 16%’ event on Wednesday 18th November.
Sign up here: 👉 Secrets of the 16%
If you’d like to check out the other 3 foundations covered in this blog series:
We hope you enjoyed the latest article in our change series.