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In an ever-changing world, organisations need to become faster, leaner and more agile to remain successful. Leaders can boost their organisations’ metabolism, enabling a continuous successful transformation when they infuse these three key ingredients:

1. Customer Centricity

Customer centricity means focusing on providing the best experience to our customers, serving them effectively, delivering what we promised to them – matching or exceeding expectations. That should be our number one priority (higher than our yearly profit or sales) because it’s critical for sustainable success.

It should be the number one priority, not only because it’s ethical to deliver what we promise but because customers have become increasingly powerful in the new digital era. Customers are no longer the anonymous mass market that we could easily influence with mass campaigns.

Our customers are active players in the market with a strong voice, influencing millions of other customers. Our customers can augment our sales power if they become our advocates and brand ambassadors or undermine our business if they turn to vocal detractors or adversaries. Earned media become stronger than paid media, especially at the stage of sales conversion.

Customer centricity requires a significant mindset shift for leaders. Most executives still live in the previous century, believing that customer-centricity means focusing on sales and running campaigns to the mass market. This is why more than 90% of budgets and resources are still allocated to the “pre-sales” activity of broadcasting promises to attract new customers rather than ensuring high customer satisfaction for the ones who bought from you.

Career success and bonuses depend on hitting sales and profit targets, not on customer satisfaction targets. Customer service is usually outsourced to low-cost call centres and after-sales back offices, where cost-cutting and call avoidance are traditionally the most important KPI.

Most companies remain “transaction” focused rather than “relationship” focused, and they allocate their resources mainly on promising rather than on serving.

Making customer satisfaction the number one priority, and re-allocating resources accordingly, will prove that leaders “walk their talk” and lead a cultural change to ensure their organisations become customer-centric and remain relevant and fresh in a changing environment.

2. Close Collaboration

Organisational collaboration is critical for effective execution and decision making.

Unfortunately, a large part of organisations’ energy is drained by their effort to succeed in internal politics, rather than improving collaboration and customer satisfaction, because this is the best way to advance their careers. Although executives behave politely, complementing each other on the surface, in reality, power games, clans, and hidden agendas prevail, fueling the “us vs them” silo mentality.

Executives should invest time to coach and align their leaders, nurturing genuine trust and mutual respect at the C-suite and highest levels of the organisation, fueling real collaboration. When executives genuinely trust and respect each other, then the regular debates on different strategies, conflicting priorities and resource allocation will result in healthy, constructive, meaningful conversations, achieving consensus, and resulting in optimum decision making and successful execution. They will focus on serving rather than antagonising each other, which is the best way to boost performance. If they don’t trust and respect each other, they will keep focusing on politics, undermining strategic decision making and effective execution.

The spirit of collaboration is essential when we try to change organisations because serious transformation usually involves radical reorganisation. Reorganisation results in major power shifts, which means we have winners and losers in the organisation, which triggers toxicity and internal battles and eventually makes most transformation programmes fail.

The capability in leading leaders makes the difference.

3. Constant Change

In a continuous fast-changing environment, we need constant transformation. Ever learning and continuously transforming organisations; organisations that welcome challenges and love learning – taking new initiatives, experimenting and undertaking calculated risks.

Sometimes this process is a natural smooth evolution with incremental changes, and sometimes it needs a disruptive transformation. Since the context differs per organisation, they all need different rhythms and degrees of change. Some organisations may need to remain rigid because reliability and discipline are the most critical factors to succeed. Others need to become more agile and innovative to thrive in a fast-changing environment.

Wise leaders know that “one size doesn’t fit all”. They recognise they should craft their strategy according to the context dynamics, finding the right balance between different valuable cultural elements (such as speed and patience) rather than changing cultural aspects from A to B.

So, if you want to remain successful in a fast-changing and more unpredictable environment, embed the three C’s in your organisation!

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Andrew Salmon