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Kelly Odell

- A blog for leaders
10 Apr 2006

The Path to profitable growth goes through the heart not through the balance sheet! (Part 3)

Long-term sustainable growth is the result of creating value for the Holy Trinity of Customer, Employee and Shareholder. Growth is the reward companies reap when they succeed in satisfying the needs of these three groups.

The Holy Trinity of Sustainable Growth
Among these three groups the shareholders needs are usually the easiest to understand since they want the best possible return on investment. It is much more difficult to identify the real underlying needs of the customer or the drivers of employee behaviour. It is even harder to align the various needs and desires of the employees and customers. In most of western society it is fair to say that from a Maslovian perspective both the customer and the employee have climbed so high on Maslov’s hierarchy that to succeed in satisfying or stimulating their needs we must focus on the purely existential needs. From this perspective almost all products and services are necessary evils. Since most of us are very secure with regard to our fundamental needs for survival such as a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs we spend most of our time striving to reach further up the path of self-actualization.

It is not unusual that companies create high-flying visions of the future for the company only to forget to address the real hopes and desires of the customer and the employee. “What’s in it for me” is a realistic and honest question of each employee to ask (as well as the customer). Expecting that the employees will strive to achieve the vision because it is their job is delusional and unrealistic. Equally, it is growth cannot be attained until the company truly understands that customers do not want what we sell, they want the benefit that our products and services create for them.

Successful companies strive to understand their customers psyscho-existential needs. How do our products and services contribute to our customers individual identity and values. Questions like “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?” and “Where do I fit in?” must be addressed almost at an individual level. The answers to these questions impact product developement, packaging, branding, market communication and much more.

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