I believe that “success” in business is measured by each individual organization’s vision and purpose; what they set out doing and by which method they’ll realize that vision. In other words, the purpose is the “MEANS” and the vision is the “END”, and there’s your relationship between means and ends.
Now, the question with regard mediocrity is whether you believe that “the end justifies the means”? But, before you answer, you might want to explore your understanding of what you think are your means and your ends.
- The end (vision) you have for your business is how you feel you can contribute best to the well-being and welfare of your stakeholders. It’s inevitable that a vision must be altruistic in nature because who wants to enter into a relationship with you without benefitting from that relationship themselves? For example, a vision can be about “connecting people” or “providing mobility”. Those are benefits that resonate with a specific target audience, giving you a distinguishable reason for being in business.
- The means (purpose) is about realizing that vision. Consequently, purpose is about responsibility, truth, values, beliefs, ethics, and moral standing. This includes your choice of a for-profit or not-for-profit business model. These are the foundations of your brand; how your behavior sets you apart from your competition. For example, are you socially responsible, environmentally conscious, employee owned, or engaged in fair-trade? Therefore, the source of excellence, customer loyalty but also scandals and fraud can be traced back to purpose!
In our everyday pursuit of the realization of a vision, we make many decisions that either bring us closer or lead us farther away from that vision. A vision gets undermined when decision-makers confuse means and ends or when they believe that an end is so important that it compels obtaining the desired results by hook or by crook. A common mistake is to confuse the profit-motive for the reason why you are in business. Then, this belief can become an obsession for which decision-makers are willing to commit predatory cultivation; they are willing to risk everything – damn the consequences, as long as they improve the bottom-line. It is these approaches to business that holds us hostage to mediocrity! Does anyone need to be reminded of how the banking industry and Wall Street derailed themselves this way?
Every day, we experience examples of mediocrity in many ways, shapes and forms. Here are some common examples:
- You contact customer service by phone or online and the company makes you interact with a machine, telling you that “quality of service” is very important to the company. None-the-less, management went out of its way to prevent you from talking to a real person … because they believe it’s too expensive; that the cherished quality of service that you expect costs more than they’re willing to spend.
- Have you ever experienced any form of “bait-and-switch”? Many businesses are highly driven by marketing. They are masters at creating Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action – a.k.a. the A.I.D.A. formula. However, once you made the buying decision you find out about surcharges or that the advertised features only come with the upgraded and more expensive model that requires a monthly subscription. How about discounts? They apply only to the standard version that nobody wants or you have to jump through hoops in order to get your mail-in rebate, in the hope that you’ll forget to mail it in, or loose the required paperwork to qualify for the rebate. Obviously, incomplete applications are null and void and do not need to be processed. Since you have to wait at least 6-8 weeks for processing, by that time you probably have forgotten all about your rebate and thus do not pursue reimbursement any further.
- Creating dissonance by instilling fear and uncertainty. Whole marketing campaigns are based on suggestion in an effort to undermine your rational thought. A statement quoting some form of statistic suggests that you might be at risk. Then they instill fear by spelling out a worst-case scenario to wreak havoc with our emotions because of the uncertainty of the affliction; we cannot see it and thus we cannot really know. Also, the information about their solution is rather vague and very difficult to compare with rival suppliers.
- “Our products and services are better because others are worse!” This last-resort measure is a favorite of politicians. If you have no distinguishing features (purpose) what-so-ever, you can only hope for successful assassination of your opponent’s character; criticizing the messenger rather than the message.
These examples of management-decisions have become so pervasive that We-the-Public are now expecting to be cheated and taken for a ride, while questioning good intent. As a result, any business that creates real value for its clients, that walks it talk has become a novelty. Today, being AUTHENTIC is revolutionary!!!
Only authentic businesses, organizations with management teams that are on-purpose in their pursuit of a clear and compelling vision, will be capable of self-renewal and re-invention. They know that excellence is about winning the hearts and minds of their audience rather than putting time, money and efforts in deception, paying third parties for activities that do not add value and trying to trip, undermine or destroy competitors.
Who’s holding you or your company hostage to mediocrity? How much has it cost thus far? What has been the ROI to date? At the end of the day, wouldn’t you think that the pursuit of excellence is cheaper and more rewarding for all concerned? The choice between Excellence and Mediocrity is yours. Yes, it’s a choice!