Author and motivational speaker William Taylor closed out FPA Experience 2011 on Saturday in San Diego with a discussion of the “higher ideal” to which truly successful companies aspire.
The author of “Practically Radical: Unleashing Big Change in Tough Times” offered suggestions to advisors about how to transform their practices, going beyond providing competent products and services to reshaping the “sense of what’s possible.” Using Lexus, a bank in the Northwestern United States and a hospital in Detroit, among other examples, Taylor told the audience that successful companies “care about customers and about each other. It’s truly a part of their culture.”
“They are not trying to out-do their competitors,” he said. “Rather, they’re redefining the competitive landscape by aspiring to higher ideals of what’s possible.”
Key messages included:
- The most successful companies redefine the terms of competition by embracing unique ideas
- The most creative CEOs aspire to learn from innovators far outside their industries
- Savvy change agents rediscover and reinterpret what’s come before to plan for the future
- The best way to change your business is to make change a normal part of doing business.
“It’s a simple question that your employees need to be able to answer, ‘Why should customers do business with you?’” he said. “Too often employees don’t have an answer. How can any organization try and outperform the competition without knowing how they are different and better? That is the problem with so many companies.”
He added that it is no longer enough to be pretty good at everything; it’s better to be superior at something. If a person or company conducts business just like everyone else, “the middle of the road becomes the road to nowhere.”
As an example, he noted the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, which recently built a new hospital. Before construction began, the CEO asked his employees to consider what it would be like to completely reform the patient’s experience.
“The result is a hospital that looks like a vacation cabin in northern Michigan,” Taylor said. “The patients check in online before they arrive, they are greeted by a concierge and everyday at 4:00 in the afternoon they have high tea with a tea sommelier that comes to each room.”
Taylor said it’s cost effective and no more expensive than other hospitals in the area. The reason, he says, is that “every doctor and nurse wants to work there, and every patient wants to go there.”
“The CEO and his staff knew everything about radiology and surgery, but they didn’t know about the human touch,” he added. “They looked outside hospitals to the hospitality industry and brought in someone that was formerly with Ritz-Carlton.”
Taylor noted that successful companies also have simplicity of message.
“Look at our most successful presidents,” he said. “They weren’t trying to do everything possible in foreign and domestic affairs. Lincoln preserved the Union and freed the slaves. FDR lifted us from economic depression and helped win a terrible war.”
For financial advisors, he suggested the message should be similarly straightforward; something about the financial impact they have on the lives of their clients.
“It should be simple, original and contain clarity of purpose,” he said.