Who Am I?
Sounds like the beginning of a group therapy session, individuals comfortably sitting around a room to delve into the world of “self actualization”. In reality, this is a comment that should be heard on a regular basis in all company offices! Who am I? What is our corporate identity?
This may seem like a strange subject for Interior Construction Magazine, but one of the major weaknesses of any organization is the ability to actually know who they are. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the organization? What is the mission of the company? What are the long term and short term goals?
In reading business publications for many years it is obvious that the most successful enterprises are the firms that have an established method of determining their destiny. They do not simply jump from one market segment to another, just because there seems to be much activity or a chance for a “quick score”! They tend to carefully analyze short term and long term prospects for a particular business sector, review the competition, determine the investment in human and physical resources required and ascertain the potential for profit.
Our industry is really not very different from others. By the time a hot new concept becomes widely accepted, it is probably past its prime and a new innovative approach is already in the final planning stages.
One of the most frustrating aspects of business is to witness companies with outstanding products and technologies expend their time, treasure and effort to copy the unique products of another “player” rather than enhance and expand upon their own proprietary technology.
In the past few years there have been several examples of companies actually utilizing a photograph on the cover of their primary company brochure of a particular project, product or application that was “one of a kind” and not an application they would ever contemplate reproducing in the future!
The same situation applies to virtually all segments of our industry. Contractors, Manufacturers, Distributors, Independent Manufacturers’ Representatives, longingly viewing the successes of competitors and becoming seduced by their products, programs and procedures. Spending valuable time and assets to attempt to duplicate competitive programs, while overlooking the tremendous opportunity already present in their own organization.
In short term or long term planning, an organization should:
- Complete an inventory of their assets, people, products and equipment.
- Analyze their current systems and procedures concerning manufacturing, marketing, sales, customer service and administration.
- Attempt to determine areas of strengths and weaknesses and formulate strategies to deal with them.
- Identify their primary competition by product category.
- Perform a comparative analysis of the company products vs. competitive products.
- Determine specific short term and long term goals covering all categories.
- Seek outside council. Others may see what you cannot.
- Carefully communicate these goals to all pertinent company personnel.
- Execute the plan!
This sounds quite simple, and probably makes sense to most of us, but the actual implementation of the process requires tremendous discipline. The day to day pressures of our businesses provide many tempting opportunities. Some seem almost too good to pass up, but if the cost is an interruption of the overall company program, and requires the team to “take their eye off the ball”, the outcome can be devastating.
We have all heard that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but does it result in increased profits? All we have to do is look at the financial results across many different industries. The top producers, the most profitable companies, the real leaders, are very rarely the “me too” companies! The innovators, the planners, the companies that prepare a detailed plan and execute it flawlessly, are generally the real winners, the real leaders.
Let’s all take a moment to look at our companies’ objectively. Are we maximizing the potential profits of the product lines we already produce or represent? Are there simple modifications of these materials or systems that would result in increased sales? Are there new potential markets for our existing products? Can we improve our literature, samples, web sites and other collateral material to boost market share? Would an improvement in our customer service department result in increased market penetration?
Who Am I? Probably a very worthwhile question. The answers may not be simple, but the attempt to identify ourselves and our companies will certainly help us to succeed in the future!
William L. Shannon CSI, CISCA
President of Shannon Corporation
Recipient of the 2004 De Gelleke Award