Each day, at workplaces all across the country, overworked, overstressed and overwhelmed employees arrive for another day of attempting to accomplish more work in less time and for less pay. The recession has left many workers running on empty and working at an unreasonable and unsustainable pace.

The reason for this state of affairs, according to “cause evangelist” Mohan Nair, author of “Strategic Business Transformation: The 7 Deadly Sins to Overcome,” is not just that employees are tired and overworked. It’s also that “they have nothing to believe in. When people are motivated by a cause, they’ll work without stopping and without loss of energy. Their dedication to the cause will fuel them.” But many companies have no other “cause” than to make money.

Give your employees an inspiring ideology, says Nair, and they will give you dedication and enthusiasm in return. This is the secret to business transformation, which is vital if a company wishes to survive in the future. “Winning companies transform themselves in order to transform the customers they serve,” explains Nair. “They [don’t] just add another feature or capability to their arsenal. In fact, they don’t think of their capabilities as arsenals because they don’t see battles; they see opportunities to transform, not destroy.”

Your first step in business transformation is to avoid the seven deadly sins of the traditional business paradigm:

  1. Ignoring the new principles of business transformation. Many companies fail because they lack higher values. You must not “think of making money without thinking of the greater contributions to society.” Nair notes that “finding meaning at work powers the 21st-century employee population.”
  2. Driving without a cause. Most companies have mission statements and most employees ignore them. What they need is cause and that is something entirely different. Nair cites Whole Foods as an example of a cause-driven company, whose CEO John Mackey has said, “I think Whole Foods’ highest purpose is a heroic one: to try to change and improve our world. That is what animates me personally. That is what animates the company.”
  3. Missing market momentum. Companies that don’t understand how momentum forms and how it can lead customers in new directions will miss the drivers that indicate where momentum is going.
  4. Ignoring the two orders of value. In addition to the rational-emotional value proposition, there is also the symbolic or “higher order” value proposition. Customers become attached to the philosophy extolled by a company (bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, for example). Organizations that can demonstrate a higher order value proposition will excel.
  5. Overlooking “servant leadership.” The traditional workspace is collapsing in the face of portable devices and remote employees. As a result, hierarchical management techniques are becoming obsolete. If you resist the momentum toward “servant leadership,” you won’t be able to attract the talent it takes to compete in a transforming marketplace.
  6. Mistaking capability for competency. Capabilities are what you can do for customers (your product or service offerings). Competency is what you can consistently do better than others. Being satisfied with simple capabilities will prevent you from creating the value that customers want and are willing to pay for.
  7. Expecting flawless execution without a performance platform. It is crucial to plan ahead if you want to deliver future competencies. Managing employee performance requires finesse in two categories: the human and the corporate. Furthermore, companies must be able to strike a balance between surviving today and investing in tomorrow. “I call this balancing act ‘building the plane while flying the plane,’” says Nair.

Nair insists that it is possible for corporate leaders to transform their organizations so that they can make money at the same time as they help employees want to come to work. “Develop a strategy that reflects your beliefs and let others, both employees and customers, choose to take up your cause. Transformation is never easy, but it is almost always worth the blood, sweat, and tears that come with it.”

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