Leadership Development

Being better than…..GREAT!



Is it possible to be better than GREAT? Ask APPLE. I learned just the other day that APPLE has sold 700 million IPhones to date….yes, 700 million FREAKING mobile rectangle devices. At first I responded to hearing this with an “OK” then I thought about it for about 10 seconds longer and it hit me, APPLE is becoming greater than GREAT. Now, before you presume this entire post is going to be a pep rally for APPLE I’m only verifying the fact that I do believe there’s a possibility of being greater than great. With as many competitors there are in the mobile device space (e.g. SAMSUNG is no slouch) vying for your dollars, it’s truly amazing what APPLE has been able to accomplish with a product that’s NOT their flagship asset (remember their PC’s?). So, because I’m curious about anything that has to do with “Excellence” & “Leadership” I’m wondering if Jim Collin’s #1 Bestseller “Good” to “Great” is now obsolete. How can companies go from “Great” to “Greatest”? In an INC magazine article Mr. Collins stated that doing the following 10 steps consistently a company can drastically improve its performance outcome:

  1. Download the diagnostic tool at jimcollins.com, and do the exercises with your team. (Of course a little self-promotion doesn’t hurt).
  2. Get the right people in the key seats.
  3. Once a quarter, have a brutal facts meeting.
  4. Set a 15 to 25-year big, hairy audacious goal (BHAG).
  5. Commit to a “20-mile march” that you will bring you to your big hairy audacious goal.
  6. Place at least one really big bet in the next three years,based on having fired bullets first.
  7. Practice productive paranoia.
  8. Get a high return on your next luck event.
  9. Make a to-do list.“If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any,” says Collins.
  10. Commit to a set of core values that you will want to build your enterprise on, without changing them, for 100 years.

I think every single step Mr. Collins spells out are solid, and even today the most successful companies you could argue excel in at least 6 out of the 10 steps. However, for me there’s just one step missing….and that is building a “VALUE PROPOSITION” that’s inspiring. Since the “Good” to “Great” phenomenon hit the business market companies have tirelessly tried to structure their business model around its teachings. As always when a trend takes hold what happens is that it becomes the norm and thus watered down. Again, there’s no argument against the 10 steps to business success according to Mr. Collins I’m only stating that business excellence has moved to another level. That level is creating a brand that moves “Customer Value” to “Inspiration Value”. There is a reason why people stand in long lines for a device that will be obsolete in the following year….and it’s not because they can’t live without a $300 rectangle box. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs couldn’t have imagine we as human beings would replace food and shelter for an item that costs more than food and shelter….but some of us have made that choice. The culprit for all of this madness is the creation of a “VALUE PROPOSITION” that inspires. The reason in my humble opinion as to why I think companies near the level of APPLE who are approaching that “Great” to “Greatest” status (e.g. Starbucks, Tesla, Facebook, Google) is because their value proposition to the consumer has surpassed “the product” itself. It’s COOL to be the first to get the latest IPhone and now “Apple Watch”, to say “I’ll meet you at Starbucks” has a “it crowd” energy feel to it. So, like any competent company APPLE and Starbucks have fed off that “Status Play” by inspiring their customers with creative value proposition messaging. Back in the late 80’s early 90’s all the rage was getting to the right customers with the right frequency, a kind of throw it all against the wall and hope something sticks. Now, with the introduction of blinding quick technology getting to customers with frequency isn’t enough; even the messaging, if it’s not creating tremendous value and inspiring the customer it’s a FAIL. Building a strong value proposition and sustaining it is the secret to going from “Great” to “Greatest”.

“Value Proposition to Greatest”

One of the things I talk about in my latest whitepaper (“Value Proposition”….addressing customer outcomes) is that an organization’s foundation should be held in place by its value proposition. Building a corporate environment/culture that encourages a “profit sharing” mentality where EVERYONE feels valued and is an integral part of the company’s success, it stands to reason that a boomerang effect of that same mentality will land on the customer. A company that strives to be the “Greatest” has to demonstrate value propositioning behavior both internally and externally. Companies benefit from having a “VP” culture because it encourages employees to execute better customer service and not feel it’s a job requirement but overall normal behavior in their work. Looking back at companies like APPLE and Starbucks it’s been said that how their leadership treats their employees has had a profound impact on their success. The 2nd step of Mr. Collin’s secret sauce to success states: “Get the right people in the key seats”…..possibly should be altered to read “Get the right people in the key seats and DEVELOP them”. I’ve put together a few steps of my own called “Shared Responsibilities” that can possibly help build an environment that’s value propositioned rich:

  1. We have a responsibility to our customer : We must put our customers first, provide superior advice, products and services, and always act with the highest level of integrity.
  2. We have a responsibility to each other: We must provide outstanding people the best opportunity to realize their potential. We must treat our teammates with respect, champion our diversity, share the responsibility for our successes, and accept accountability for our failures.
  3. We have a responsibility to our department: We must put department A’s long term interests ahead of each department’s short term gains, and provide superior results for our shareholders. We must respect the local culture and take an active role in the communities where we work and live.

Taking nothing away from the “Good to Great” philosophy as I think many of its components are still in play during these ridiculous competitive times. However, as we move toward a future that measures company performance not just locally but globally…I’m wondering if just being GREAT is enough?

Being better than…..GREAT!



Take a look at our whitepaper: “Value Proposition”….addressing customer outcomes




Andre’ Harrell

AH2 & Beyond Consulting



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