Monthly Archives: October 2016

Triggers That Pull Companies

Since Cesare Mainardi and I published Strategy That Works: How Winning Companies Close the Strategy-to-Execution Gap (Harvard Business Press, 2016), a lot of businesspeople have told us that they feel too far removed from the companies we heralded in the book. After all, our examples of highly distinctive and successful companies focused on iconic brands like Apple, Amazon, Frito-Lay, IKEA, Lego, Natura, and Starbucks. Each of the companies we profiled had succeeded in building capabilities that gave them a winning edge. And they were coherent: They applied those capabilities to every product and service and to the overall way they created value. This gave the companies powerful identities that no one else could copy.

While it may feel daunting to follow their example, we believe that any company can do the same. The five acts highlighted in the book — commit to an identity, translate the strategic into the everyday, put your culture to work, cut costs to grow stronger, and shape your future — add up to a path of development that a growing number of businesses have followed, and that leads to a compelling, consistent level of growth and performance.

When we discuss these ideas with business leaders across regions and industries, one question often comes up: How can we get started? We know it’s not easy to begin. In fact, with every one of the highly capable companies we studied, the leaders of the company pulled a “trigger” — a signal, loud and clear, of the need for change. The leaders thus pushed their companies to abandon conventional wisdom and build the long-lasting, capabilities-based advantage they needed. These triggers are available to you as well; you can use them to generate the confidence (and sometimes the desperation) needed to invest everything in developing a strategy that works.

Different ways of complaining

  • Face to face
  • By phone
  • By email
  • By letter

Let’s first take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each before concluding which is the most effective.

Picture this scenario: you have bought a faulty item from a shop and you take it back to complain. You go directly to the shop assistant and tell them your problem. They say they cannot help you, which makes you angrier, to the point perhaps where you start insulting the poor shop assistant. RESULT: This will do you no favours, like getting any compensation, or even a refund. If you go directly to the first person you see within the organisation you are complaining about, you may be wasting your time as they may be powerless to take any action or provide you with a solution. So the important lesson to be learnt is to make sure firstly that you are speaking to the relevant person, the one who has the authority to make decisions.

Perhaps you don’t have time to actually go and see the relevant authority in person so you decide to make a phone call. The problem with complaining by phone is that you may be passed around from department to department, making you more and more angry until you finally give up. Either that or the phone is hung up on you, which leaves you fuming even more. Furthermore, any contact can be denied.

The same applies to emails too, which can additionally be deleted, or even manipulated.

This leaves us with the traditional letter. When we first make a complaint the usual response is a request to write a letter:  “Can you put that down in writing please?”

The advantages of writing a letter of complaint are that:

  • Written records are still very important, e.g. in legal matters as opposed to a fax or email.
  • You have complete control over what is being said, and you can present evidence.
  • You can be prepared, and plan your letter carefully.
  • You are able to keep copies of anything sent in writing.
  • You have time to reflect and/or consult as opposed to complaining on the spot.

So here are some useful points to consider when writing your letter:

  • State what went wrong exactly. You need to provide concrete evidence, with documentation, for example a receipt, where possible. Make sure you keep copies of all correspondence, including relevant documentation. You also need to state where, when, who was involved, what was said or done. Photographic or video evidence boosts your case.
  • What do you expect from your complaint?  If you are complaining about a situation at work, focus on taking action to improve situations rather than spending your time complaining.
  • State a time limit for when you expect a reply.
  • Be assertive, and stay calm.
  • Make sure you address the complaint to the relevant person.

This will be more likely to ensure that you will achieve a satisfactory outcome from your complaint. Good luck!