We ask our clients this question.  It can be answered in many ways and each answer provides a “brushstroke” as our consulting team paints a picture of how well a business is doing.

Is your business delivering top performance?  This question is relevant for any company in any industry.  A simple question with many answers…

Being in the business of performance improvement, we ask a lot of people specifically about their company’s perceived performance and the answers are sometimes startling:

  • “That takes care of itself if we do the right things.”
  • “Our products are commoditized, but we can sell everything we make.”
  • “We command premium pricing because our product is superior.”
  • “Sales are down; costs are up… but we’re hanging in there.”
  • “We meet and exceed regulations pertaining to our business.”
  • “Our manufacturing is very green…”
  • “Products are sustainable and we manage stewardship from cradle to grave.”
  • “Our people’s diversity provides a leg up in our global markets.”

The above quotes are from performance discussions with clients ranging from gold miners, oil and gas producers, manufacturers, and insurance executives. We often find the responses wrapped in a comfortable blanket of conventional wisdom that ignores the wide range of possibilities facing organizations in an ever more complex world.  There’s nothing wrong with conventional wisdom that is built on decades of experience… unless it blinds you to the current realities.

Of course, we also hear a lot about business plans and profits.  Make no mistake, we are strong advocates of “making plan” and corporate citizenship how ever you choose to define it.

Most businesses work to make positive contributions to society, not only through their products and services but also in their communities, through mandated or voluntary environmental & product stewardship, employee betterment initiatives, etc.  And, depending on markets and regulatory environments some of these “softer” performance topics actually represent required “tickets” to get on the field of play.  Likewise, we also see the occasional business spending so much time on “citizenship” they have neglected performance accountability.  No question it’s all important to find the right balance in today’s environment.

 “It’s the 21st Century, isn’t managing across many dimensions just a given?”

Every business needs to articulate positions on these topics based on it’s specific situation.  There seldom is a single right answer, just an optimal balance.  That said, one must be careful to avoid conflating the topic of performance (generating profit for shareholders) with market positioning, corporate citizenship, societal benevolence, or regulatory compliance.  In the optimal balance, these are all important performance enablers.

Granted, we are admittedly a little “old-school” on this topic and not everyone thinks like us.  Remember back in the “dark ages” when corporations existed solely for the benefit of shareholders and business schools taught that they were basically amoral entities (being neither righteous nor criminally minded)?  Most would not describe their business that way today.  Still true is that not much is important in business unless you profitably produce goods or services that someone wants to buy in great quantity.

Back to business performance:  it is the key to creating shareholder value and delivering all of the other regulatory and citizenship niceties.  Initially capital, but ultimately performance is the precursor for investment in just about everything from basic research to innovation to modern facilities.  Business results fund other things that are equally important, including compliance, citizenship activities, and enrichment of employees.  Without performance; i.e.- sales, profits, and shareholder value creation; a business has no reason (and often no financial capacity) to showcase its tangible benefits to society.

Even if your business is making plan there are likely numerous areas where costs are not optimal; profit opportunities are ignored; sales opportunities are missed; and new markets are passed over.  All of these situations degrade potential shareholder value and have a detrimental effect on all the other things your organization might wish to accomplish.  Why does this happen?  It’s never simple, but we find that root causes are generally conflated with other issues that obscure opportunity or make it seemingly impossible to address.

At Certitude Group, we do not suffer from the deleterious effects of your conventional wisdom.  Certitude Group specializes in getting to the root causes of these kinds of issues.  We call it Assessment & Design.  It takes a few weeks and it’s relatively inexpensive.  The Assessment & Design helps you understand root causes and a financial case for change.  With that mutual understanding, our professional teams partner with our clients working shoulder to shoulder to implement tools, methods, and training that drive improved performance.  Clients enjoy working with our people because they have worked in industry and consulting and are very experienced problem solvers.  Our clients achieve significant and sustainable net financial improvements generally within 6 to 12 months as the Certitude engagement pays for itself many times over.

As always, thanks for reading.

If you’d like to see case studies and results go here:  http://www.certitudegroup.com/downloads

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