Take the initiative and succeed

By Johan Rindeg, InfoWorld |  Business

Take the initiative and succeed

IT'S A SIMPLE CONCEPT, really, but often overlooked: Get to know the customer
well to drive the business forward. For CEOs and the like, the strategic necessity is
obvious. For middle management and staff, the necessity may seem less apparent -- but
is just as crucial for the welfare of the business.

Bill Dauphinais, partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in New York, and co-author of
Wisdom of the CEO (John Wiley & Sons, 2000) offers insight into key concepts that
everybody in the company needs to know well.

1. Get to know human nature.

Ask what makes certain companies, executives, and managers successful, says
Dauphinais, and you'll find out that as part of the equation they know human nature
well. "They're just so focused on the customer experience," he says, "and that's why
they're winning." As for employees fitting in the big picture, "Companies look for
people who understand their customers, who really get inside the customers' heads, and
know what they need and when they need it."

2. Understand business concepts.

"Although e-business is changing all aspects of business, the fundamentals remain
constant -- understand your company's value proposition," Dauphinais says. To
contribute to the bottom line, you have to be deeply aware of what that is, exactly.
Michael Dell and his namesake company, says Dauphinais, are classic examples of truly
understanding everything about the customer and its business, "then attacking every
nuance of that."

3. Research, then initiate.

To get ahead, apply the principles of both the new economy and the old economy. In
simple terms, do your homework and then take quick action, says Dauphinais. "It's
extremely important not to forego research, but you have to do it at light speed," he
says. There is no time to wait for the perfect decision anymore. Instead, "get out
there in the marketplace, understand the customer, implement it as soon as possible,
realize it's not going to be perfect -- but just do it and fix it, do it and fix it."
Employees, says Dauphinais, "should really struggle to understand how what they're
doing contributes to serving the customers and how their work impacts the business
model." To be the best employee you can be, says Dauphinais, you have to ask
questions. "For example, 'How does this task, or that process, impact the customer
experience?' If everybody started asking these questions, it would be a huge win."

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