Businesses today are too preoccupied with measuring workplace productivity by managing people’s time and evaluating their performance. However, this fixation often detracts from understanding customer needs and delivering quality outcomes.
In today’s competitive marketplace, this strategic approach fosters sustained business growth and customer satisfaction and that redirecting organisational focus toward valued outcomes is crucial for three main reasons.
Providing value to customers is paramount in satisfying their needs
When customers perceive value in a product or service, they are more likely to become returning customers and recommend the business to others, and this can lead to an increase in sales and positive word-of-mouth marketing.
Differentiation and establishing a market edge within a crowded marketplace
This is crucial for businesses to stand out from their competitors. By offering more value to customers, businesses gain a competitive advantage, attracting a larger market share and increasing profitability. Customers tend to choose businesses that offer better value, making it a key factor in influencing their purchasing decisions.
Focusing on delivering value to customers indirectly benefits employees
Engaging employees in understanding the value of their work to customers leads to higher motivation levels, reduced staff turnover rates, increased productivity, better product quality, and a stronger commitment to the business.
Research has shown that businesses make common mistakes when managing people and their perceived productivity levels. One such mistake is overemphasising the quantity of output over quality, which often results in rushed work and compromised solutions. Prioritising quantity over quality can lead to dissatisfied customers and tarnishes a business’s long-term reputation.
This is another pitfall that stifles creativity and innovation, particularly in knowledge work. When employees feel constantly watched and scrutinised, their motivation dwindles, and they are less likely to take risks or generate new ideas. Empowering employees with ownership and autonomy is crucial for fostering a collaborative culture that drives innovation.
Organisations can shift their focus in six simple but highly effective steps:
- Question the validity of work:
We must be selective over what work is finished next. Questioning the validity of work at all levels (programme, project, epic, feature, task) with a preference for the larger work requests can help to expose sub-optimal decisions around value.
- Define clear measurable outcomes:
Outcomes define the “what, why, and how much”, but not so much the “how”. Good outcomes are inspirational, objectively measurable, and horizon-bound. The work of strategy is to set and communicate meaningful direction. Having a clear, measurable direction in place in the form of long-term, mid-term, and short-term horizon outcomes, provides context for the work being undertaken, as well as allow for early and often detection of progress towards the goal.
- Align work with strategy:
Explicitly link the work being done to higher-order measurable outcomes, ensuring that it contributes directly to achieving strategic goals.
- Avoid overloading work:
Understand delivery capacity and resist the temptation to start more work than can be finished. This improves focus, reduces context switching, and enhances the quality of delivery.
- Sequence work with value in mind:
Prioritise work items based on their value and urgency, using methods like the cost of delay to make informed trade-off decisions and ensure the best outcomes.
- Visualise work in progress:
This allows for better understanding and coordination, while deliberate measurement and improvement strategies ensure continuous progress and customer satisfaction.
By adopting these practices, businesses can transform their organisational culture, enhance employee morale, deliver high-quality solutions, and ultimately achieve bottom-line success.
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