Harvard Business Press
January 19, 2010
Most companies say they are “customer-focused” – yet consistently fail to deliver solutions to the problems their customers care about most. That’s because the divisional silos most firms are organized around make it impossible for them to adapt quickly to changing customer needs. In an era of raging commoditization and eroding profit margins, survival depends on staying one step ahead of your customers – not just giving them what they say they want, but also anticipating what they want in the future, even if they can’t articulate it yet, and finding innovative ways to deliver it.
In Reorganize for Resilience, strategy and organizational behavior expert Ranjay Gulati reveals how resilient companies prosper in both good times and bad – driving growth and increasing profitability by immersing themselves in the lives of their customers. Instead of pushing their own offerings on customers, these firms work from the outside: identifying current and potential customer problems and then providing seamless, integrated products and services that address them.
Based on more than a decade of research in a variety of industries, this implementation-focused guide shows how resilient companies break down internal barriers that impede action, build bridges across divisions, and create a network of collaborators. Using examples from companies including Cisco Systems, Lafarge, Starbucks, Best Buy, and Jones Lang LaSalle, Gulati
describes the five key levers that together help create a resilient organization:
- Coordination: Connect, eradicate, restructure silos to enable swift responses
- Cooperation: Align all employees around the shared goal of customer solutions
- Clout: Redistribute power to “bridge builders” and customer champions
- Capability: Develop employees’ skills at tackling changing customer needs
- Connection: Blend your offerings with partners’ to provide unique customer solutions
Authoritative and practical, Reorganize for Resilience will finally help you “walk the walk” of customer centricity – and jump-start a virtuous circle of profits, growth, and competitive advantage.
Ranjay Gulati is the Jaime and Josefina Chua Tiampo Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.