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Double Your Profits in Two Years or Less

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⦁ Structure: Structure defines responsibility and authority. Values can be effectively implemented only when these terms are clearly defined and enforced at all levels of the company. The chief safety officer at DuPont is the CEO. Every level of manager and supervisor down to the factory floor has a well-defined responsibility for achieving safety. The company’s parking lot attendants are authorized to prevent any vehicle from leaving the lot until passengers buckle their safety belts. At Merck, no medical representative is authorized to make a single statement about the company’s products which has not be approved by a supervisory team beforehand.

⦁ Systems: Systems play a crucial role in monitoring, implementing and communicating performance on values. At FedEx, systems continuously inform employees and supervisors about their performance on sorting rates, speed of servicing aircraft, arrival and departure of planes, speed of answering customer calls, etc. That continuous flow of information continuously reminds everyone of the need for speed.

⦁ Skills: Perfect implementation of values requires high quality training on a wide range of skills. At DuPont, every factory foreman is responsible for training his staff on one safety measure day in and day out every year, to ensure that no possible source of accidents is overlooked.

In companies such as FedEx, DuPont and Merck, the process of value implementation is well-defined and highly structured. In others such as Coke, Delta and Northwestern Mutual it has become institutionalized as part of the intangible corporate culture, which every employee understands and adheres to without reminder or reinforcement. I can still recall many of the stories I heard cited at these companies as examples of its commitment to values. At Northwestern Mutual one insurance agent told me about his experience handling the case of a 32-year-old stockbroker with a wife and two children, who had recently died of a brain tumor. His life insurance policy had lapsed six months earlier and the client had failed to renew it before his death. His family was left penniless and distraught. According to law, no payment was due. But according to the company’s culture of commitment to customers, it just did not seem right to the agent. So he investigated the matter and referred it to the company’s medical committee. On further examination they determined that the patient might have been suffering disability from the tumor long before his death and his disability could have been responsible for his failure to renew the policy, so the company decided to pay the policy in full. That commitment to high values is one of the reasons customers are willing to pay more for a Northwestern policy than from that of other insurers.

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