In the last post, we discussed the six ways in which value propositions can be ineffective: they can be product- or company-centric, fragmented, unfocused, not applied to the ecosystem, be unsustainable, and/or not aligned with internal culture.
Today we’ll focus on what’s needed: a “north star” destination and framework used by the entire organization that addresses all six common stumbling blocks:
- Is relevant and motivating to customers
- Helps unify the organization
- Is simple enough to provide laser focus
- Can be delivered across the ecosystem
- Is timeless, providing stability and focus in changing environments
- Is applicable internally to ensure authenticity
Isn’t this what a brand promise is supposed to do? Well, in an ideal world, yes. But unfortunately in most companies, the CMO doesn’t have influence over operationalizing that brand promise. That means that many brand promises are developed to drive marketing metrics, not organizational metrics, and are therefore siloed from the rest of the organization. In speaking with many firms, I've heard: "we don't know what to do with the brand promise." These promises are developed without operationalization in mind, with tragic consequences for CX strategy, digital strategy, and innovation strategy which are left disconnected from each other.
So we need a north star that's held at the CEO level that guides all decisions, including brand.
Which begs the question, isn’t this the role of the vision and mission? Well, yes, theoretically. Unfortunately most vision and mission statements are about the company, not about the outcome that should be delivered to customers. At their worst, they use phrases like “to be the leading (xyz company),” which is an undifferentiated, self-centered type of vision that fails to motivate employees or customers. When I've seen customers integrated into the executive-level strategy, it's typically an add-on, not central.
We can link all these challenges back to one root cause: the legacy we inherited from Henry Ford. Mechanistic, linear, non-human... even though they are humans who pay our bills and humans who work for us. And this legacy results in silos. Marketing does marketing. CX does customer experience. Product does product, often disconnected from other products sold to the same customer. HR builds employee value propositions separately from the customer-facing promise. IT responds to the squeakiest wheel instead of strategically delivering on a human-centric promise. What holds them all together?
The Value Platform - Overview
The Value Platform is a human-centric unifying foundation for the entire organization, and is designed to:
- Anchor a business on what doesn’t change in this rapidly changing society: Human needs. And there aren’t that many of them, which is why we've developed Value Platform Archetypes that can be used individually or in combination (learn the details here). Many argue that the younger generations are fundamentally different than GenX and the Boomers, but I disagree. Needs don’t change; expectations do (and have, quite dramatically). Its timeless nature means that you can feel confident in making decisions and allocating resources to delivering and innovating on the platform over time. The Archetype is translated into specific promises to each stakeholder type: customers, partners, employees... and we mustn't forget the broader ecosystem in which the business operates. Sustainability and CSR are also typically tack-on programs rather than strategic business drivers, so let's pull them into the center to maximize their potential ROI.
- Serve as a unifying principle for everything you do. Brand and experience design are tightly integrated. Product/offering value propositions are informed by the platform, so you don’t need to reinvent wheels; while customer insights will be needed to investigate specific features and benefits at a product level, you don’t need to go deep. The hard work is already done. Governance uses the value platform to guide decision-making and resource allocation. Metrics are unified across the organization, showing progress towards a shared goal. And the organization design and culture reflect the human-centric goal for which it serves; the most successful organizations organize cross-functionally around customer journeys, or, even better, customer segments.
- Synchronize transformation efforts: while digital, innovation, customer-centricity/CX and the future of work are led out of different departments, each can leverage and strengthen the platform… and by doing so, strengthen each other. The entire system gets stronger and more coherent.