In part 1 of this blog post, I wrote about Value, Trust and Customer Truths. For Part 2, I’m going to discuss guiding principles and the importance they play in aligning a team.
Quiding principles are principles or precept that guides an organization throughout its life in all circumstances, irrespective of changes in its goals, strategies, type of work, or the top management. By definition, an idea that influences you very much when making a decision or considering a matter.
Shortly after I wrote part 1 of this blog, I heard Rex Tillerson (US Secretary of State) address the State Department on the first day of his new assignment (2/2/17). He had been sworn in as US Secretary of State the previous day, and this was his first appearance before the State Department. Mr. Tillerson, in less than 25 minutes, let his team know what was important to him. We can all learn from his leadership example. In his speech, he thanked the people of the department for their hard work and loyalty. He talked about change and he reminded them of their mission. He then took the opportunity of this very first speech to articulate the Guiding (Core) Principles he expected the State Department to follow during his watch.
“For every individual who works at the State Department, I ask that we adopt a few core principles.
First, I believe that any organization runs best when all of its members embrace accountability. From the mailroom to the boardroom, every member of a team has a job to do. I know nobody will always be perfect, and that certainly includes me. But I ask that everyone strives for excellence and assume responsibility for their actions and their decisions.
Secondly, I want us to be honest with one another. We’re on the same team. We share the same mission. Honesty will undergird our foreign policy, and we’ll start by making it the basis of how we interact with each other.
Lastly, we’re going to treat each other with respect. No one will tolerate disrespect of anyone. Before we are employees of the State Department, we are human beings first. Let us extend respect to each other, especially when we may disagree.
What I ask of you and what I demand of myself – I will embrace accountability, honesty, and respect no less than anyone.”
By spelling out the three guiding principles, he set both the tone and the foundational building blocks for success. He took advantage of his first opportunity in front of the team to tell them what was foundationally important to him and he aligned the team behind his beliefs.
Guiding Principles in Our Industry
In the world of CSPs, MSOs, and DSPs, defining guiding principles for organizations and transformation initiatives is just as important as at the State Department. Leaders have a real opportunity to define and reinforce guiding principles that can be used to motivate their teams to do great work. Sometimes called mantras, north stars or marching orders, they align organizations and get everyone on the same page. They can be used to determine if an initiative is important, to prioritize and to measure effectiveness or value creation.
My experience has led me to believe that if guiding principles are not defined and communicated, organizations are easily distracted by bright shiny objects and today’s hot topics, instead of being focused on what’s valuable. At British Telecom, regarding digital transformation and orchestration, their principles seek the improvement of their speed and value proposition for their customers. So their guiding principles are real time, zero touch, and self-serve. As part of the discovery phase of an Intraway Symphonica project, we conduct whiteboarding sessions with clients to define the current and future state as it relates to their customer’s experience and internal processes. Once that work is completed, we ask clients for a list of their guidelines. We often find guiding principles have not been established or the list is too long to be meaningful. We suggest putting the customer first when defining guiding principles and then focus on just a few principles that will be easily understood and measured (i.e. zero touch, self-serve, real-time).
Once guiding principles are defined, it’s easy to bounce an initiative, new functionality or decision against the principle to assure it supports it and moves the organization closer to it goals. One of our clients has stated zero touch and real-time are the guiding principles they’re using for a transformation program in support of fulfillment and activation. They know these principles have dramatic impacts on their OPEX budget and speed of implementation, but they also know that setting them up will support dynamic services in the future.
Our experience tells us cross-functional alignment around guiding principles is rare inside MSOs and CSPs. Usually, principles are consistent within a function but vary across functions. Engineering, Care, Operations, and Sales don’t typically share the same principles, but could if they were defined correctly and focused on the big C, customer.
I’d contend by defying a few guiding principles, organizations can become better aligned, make better decisions and deliver more value than they are currently able to. They will also have a mechanism for prioritizing what functionality is important and which initiatives should be done first.
Guiding principles by themselves are not the be all and end all for an organization. If they’re defined, organizations will know what type of processes, platforms, and structures or people they need to define, develop, and deploy to be successful. Additionally, when combined with Value, Trust, and the Customer Truths, they become a powerful force to get organizations focused on WIN (What’s Important Now).
To learn more about Intraway’s unique approach to creating value, and to schedule a whiteboarding session to define/refine your guiding principles, please reach out to me.