E89: Deliver Value Installment #2: Organization Leaders Want Value-Driven Outcomes
Hello and welcome to the KnolShare with Dr. Dave Podcast. I am Dr. Dave Cornelius, your host. For those who have been listening and receiving value from this podcast, I thank you for the support. If you are new, welcome.
The Deliver Value series is a set of topics that will be included in my upcoming book called Deliver Value: Happing contributing people, satisfied customers, and thriving business. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been struggling to finish this book, so I decided to use a lean-agile approach. Each month a topic from the book will be released as one of my podcast episodes to create the Deliver Value series. The second installment of the series is titled “organization leaders want value-driven outcomes”.
The goal of agility measures is to keep track of the most value-driven factors to lead business success. – Pearl Zhu
The conversations that I commonly have with organization leaders can be summarized into the desire to 1) maintain and increase gross margin, 2) increase brand loyalty, 3) attract and retain resilient people, 4) practice agility, and 5) leverage risks for exponential gains. These are the five core practices that leaders can use to help an organization thrive.
1 - Maintain and Increase Gross Margins
Gross margin (GM) is the amount of money earned from the sales of products or services. The higher gross margin value indicates the profitability of a company, which means more money available for investments and a sign of financial health. To calculate gross margin, you subtract Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) from Net Sales Revenue. Leaders become concerned and frustrated when gross margins are negative because it is a sign that expenses or sales are not performing as planned. The response is often the proverbial tightening of the belt that leads to layoffs and cost cutting. However, when gross margin is positive, leaders can use this information to drive strategic decisions that include offering discounts to customers to increase sales and outpace the competition. Gross margin should not be the only key performance indicator (KPI) that leaders use to determine profitability because not all expenses are included in the calculation.
2 - Increase Brand Loyalty
The importance of the pursuit to protect and expand brand loyalty creates an environment that will help create happy customers and a healthy brand, which often leads to recurring revenue streams. My great grandmother would often tell me “A bird in hand is better than two in the bushes”. This simply translate from a West Indian colloquial proverb to mean focus on the things you currently have in hand but do not ignore what is possible. The cost to attract new customers can be significantly reduced when a Net Promoter Score (NPS) is high with a value of 9 or 10, and people are singing praises about a product and service to other people in their network. Often referred to as word-of-mouth advertising. NPS is more than just a score, it represents actual feelings about your company, products, and services. Buying a new or expensive product is an emotional activity and it creates anxiety about whether the product or service will provide the desired value or meet expectations. Brand loyalty is not limited to products and services but also applies to individuals delivering value to people and organizations. Creating brand loyalty as a professional coach and trainer is equally important as the Apple or Amazon brand loyalty.
3 - Attract and Retain Resilient People
The COVID-19 global pandemic disrupted the global workforce and economy. The disruption has changed the tone of leadership toward workforce engagement and development. Attracting and retaining resilient people is not as simple as past years. The “Great Resignation” as it has been labeled by industry experts has shifted the dynamics to employees obtaining the freedom to make decisions about the type of work that is meaningful and fulfilling. The future of work is uncertain but exciting for the knowledge workers willing to chart their own course. The idea of the one-size-fits-all working arrangements may be a thing of the past. The future way of working may require leaders to be agile and establish working agreements with knowledge workers to work-from-home and / or be present in the office. The idea that organizations cannot be profitable and productive with remote workers has been debunked during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One way to measure employee satisfaction is to use an employee net promoter score (eNPS). Leaders can survey employees by asking one question -- would you recommend someone to work at our company. The responses are significant signals that inform leaders about the level of loyalty to the organization and willingness of people to provide innovative ideas to expand the company’s growth. If employees are happy and productive, the likelihood of customers being satisfied is significantly greater.
Emergent and assigned resilient leaders help to steer the organization and create an environment where people can thrive. The ability of an organization to attract and retain resilient leaders creates continuity of ideas, culture, and knowledge. The intrinsic values of the resilient leaders include the following:
- Enable flow by removing system impediments
- Demonstrate the ability to get up when times are tough
- Find a way during impossible odds
- Be supportive with empathy regardless of the circumstances
Resilient leaders are those steely-nerve and empathetic men and women that can discover ways to push through tough times to take advantage of opportunities, while innovating to reach new markets. Oprah Winfrey is top of mind when it comes to a woman that is resilient and transformative in her field. Germany’s first female Chancellor Angela Merkel was a top leader in Europe and has moved her country out of the financial crisis into a healthy financial status. The late William (Bill) Campbell, a former football coach and entrepreneur, became a beloved and effective executive coach to leaders at Apple, Intuit, eBay, Yahoo, Twitter, and Facebook. He provided resilient leadership coaching and advice to many Silicon Valley leaders, which changed the trajectory of those companies. He was considered the “trillion dollars” coach because of the number of leaders that he advised and coached at multi-billion-dollar companies in Silicon Valley (Smith, Rosenberg, Eagle, 2019).
4 - The Importance of Practicing Agility
Now more than ever, the practice of business agility is necessary to navigate the uncertain and volatile markets that leaders face. The shortages of available people to fill jobs is a new phenomenon for organizations wrestling with how to get the strategic work done with the declining number of people to work on initiatives. Gartner (2021) indicated that leaders will have to evaluate the interchangeability of talent and work as a new strategy for future employment models. The evaluation will include the analysis of the deployment of traditional employees, contractors, and outsourced and temporary talent. The results will help to strategically align work and available talent.
5 - Leverage Risks for Exponential Gains
The COVID-19 pandemic opened the palette of many leaders to learn new ways of mitigating the risks of shutting down business operations for long durations by developing and implementing a digital transformation strategy. Some would say that the order of execution was fire-aim-ready. Limited experiments were needed to validate certain hypotheses. An agile approach was necessary to create shorter feedback loops for increased learnings.
At this point we do not yet understand the full effect of COVID-19 on the world’s market and people. Organizations are discovering new approaches to navigate risks to achieve exponential gains to remain competitive and thrive. One of the known and prominent ways to scale up to achieve exponential gains is through Digital transformation. The big joke is who is the champion of your digital transformation strategy, the answer is COVID-19.
One of my former clients had to pivot from being a traditional in-store pet drop-off and pick-up to using curb-side methods enabled by a mobile app during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, this client had adopted agile practices in the information technology and product development areas. The six months of the transformation journey allowed the organization to pivot and prioritize work items that were scheduled for later in the year to have a higher priority to meet the urgency of now. The results were successful enough that the company ran national television advertisements’, demonstrating the ability to book pet appointments by using a mobile app.
The five described practices that can be used by leaders may position the organization to achieve 1) maximum value by being financially aware, 2) people autonomy, 3) extreme customer focus, 4) being nimble, and 5) taking the right number of risks. These five growth practices will allow leaders to evaluate additional strategic options based on additional capacity obtained from business agility.
Thank you for listening to the KnolShare with Dr. Dave Podcast. I hope this learning experience would prompt you to seek to discover more ways of finding your level of awesomeness.
The music for this podcast is done by my niece, Kayanna Brow-Hendrickson.
The KnolShare with Dr. Dave podcast is streamed on Spotify, iTunes, Audible, and Google.
This podcast is Copyright 2021, KnolShare.org and Dr. Dave Cornelius.
Until next time, be well, stay safe and connect soon.