A few days ago, I read an article about Southwest Airlines where the author claimed that the company’s values were to put employees first, customers second, and shareholders third. Wouldn’t it be great if making business decisions was this simple? In an attempt to show the importance of treating employees well and its impact on customers, the author very much oversimplified complex decisions that senior leaders have to make every day.

In Built To Last, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras use the terms “Tyranny of the OR” and “Genius of the AND” to contrast two fundamental management ideologies or philosophies. In their research on successful, visionary companies, they found that the best companies found ways to embrace what would be on the surface to be competing or even impossible combinations. Visionary companies avoid making either-or decisions, but rather excel in finding ways to have it all.

Disney has a what it calls a hierarchy of values to help front line employees make critical decisions. The hierarchy is safety-courtesy-show-efficiency. Employees are taught that if they have to make a choice between the safety of a guest and being courteous, safety comes first. However, this doesn’t mean that they just ignore courtesy, and focus on safety exclusively. In fact, they train people to be courteous even when facing a safety issue.

The challenge that senior leaders face is meeting the needs of all the stakeholders of the company—customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, and community. If a group of leaders were asked to rank order this list, the results would be all over the place. Some may believe that shareholders or owners needs come first. After all, if the needs of shareholders for return on investment are not met, then the business won’t survive. Others may believe that the customer comes first. Without customers, there would be no business. Still others may think that putting employees first, leads to more satisfied customers and therefore, higher profits.

The reality is that all stakeholders are important to the success of an organization. Serial thinking would suggest that we need to place the interests or needs of one group of stakeholders over the others. The problem with serial thinking is that it over simplifies the relationship between the different stakeholders. There is interdependence among the stakeholders. Parallel thinking recognizes this interdependence among stakeholders. Rather than have to make choices about what is more important, parallel thinking recognizes that all are important. For example, prior to the quality movement in the 1980’s, conventional wisdom—serial thinking– was that high quality and low cost were conflicting objectives. The quality gurus, such as Phil Crosby and W. Edwards Deming, showed us how high quality and low cost could be achieved simultaneously by building quality into processes and eliminating waste and defects.

Sometimes we talk about the need to balance the needs of stakeholders. However, balance implies compromise or tradeoffs. It is succumbing to the “tyranny of the OR”.

One of the issues that many companies face today is what is referred to as sustainability. Sustainability is defined as increase in productivity and/or reduction of consumed resources without compromising product or service quality, competitiveness, or profitability. In other words, the environment has become another stakeholder that businesses need to address.

Whatever the list of stakeholders is for your business, the key to competitive advantage is to create a culture of stakeholder focus rather than focus on just one of the stakeholders. Changing the mindset of the organization to one that embraces the “genius of the AND” expects that the needs of all stakeholders are met without compromising or neglecting any of the other stakeholders. This is not easy, but according to Collins and Porras, this is exactly what exceptional and visionary organizations do.

Hera a are a few things you can do begin making this culture shift in your organization. First, avoid being put into situations where you must decide to favor one stakeholder over another. If you staff frames alternatives that are either we do this or we do that, and a stakeholder’s needs are compromised, don’t accept that. Challenge your staff to come up with additional alternatives.

In my manufacturing management roles I would sometimes be asked, “do you want quality or do you want production” . My answer was always that we need both. The simple thing to do was to slow done the process so it ran better. It didn’t take much creativity or innovation to do that. Only when we said we needed both did people get creative and innovative.

Secondly, when making major changes expect that the needs of all stakeholders are considered. One particular irritant to me is the automated customer service systems that some companies have. Some do a good job, while others are horrible. In some cases, I think the charge was to use technology to make the customer service system as efficient as possible from a company perspective. These are the ones that are horrible. On the other hand, those which are the best had the charge to use technology to make our customer service as good as it can be for our customers and easy to use for our employees. The companies that adopted the latter approach still got efficiency, but met the needs of customers and employees as well.

Finally, even though excellent companies like Disney and Southwest Airlines purport to have a hierarchy of values, I would avoid the temptation to do this. Yes, employees need guidance for making day-to-day decisions, but the intention could be misread. I think in practice that Disney and Southwest Airlines actually pay equal attention to all of their stakeholders.

Does your organization focus on just one stakeholder or is it focused on all stakeholders? What difference would it make for your company if the focus changed?

Ryan Scholz works with leaders whose success is dependent on getting commitment and high performance from others. He is author of Turning Potential into Action: Eight Principles for Creating a Highly Engaged Work Place. For more information, visit his web site at www.lead-strat-assoc.com.
Related: Out Of Memory Error,Processor,Computer Bugs After Restoring,Gapi32.dll,Clean Windows Protection
Read More: ,The Messenger Service Has Not Been,L2tp Fehler 789,error 0x80070005 email,error 0x80070005 office activation,regsvr32 error 0x80070005