Would anyone care – would anyone be upset or saddened if your organization didn’t exist? Is what you do important and meaningful enough that there would be an emotional reaction from your clients to news that you are no longer here? Is there anything about what you do that is so unique and special that it would be missed dearly? Or, would someone else be able to offer a similar product or service and easily fill the void you’ve left?
Throughout history, organizations – businesses, not-for profit’s, and government agencies alike – have come and gone. And in my experience, most are quickly forgotten – they may be missed for a fleeting moment, but then they are gone. They are replaced by some other service or product that provides a similar or even better experience.
How many people do you know that really miss the Oldsmobile Automobile or Zellers Department Stores (some reading this will not even know there was a car brand called Oldsmobile, or a store called Zellers). Organization’s that last are different though. There is something special about them that people value, remember, and even love.
The secret to creating and sustaining an organization that will stand the test of time is to actually matter in the minds, and more importantly the hearts of the people who access your product or service. I say hearts, because most people actually make decisions about what product to buy or service to utilize with their heart and gut, not their mind – meaningful information enters through the heart. It is the “feel good” connection to a brand that keeps people coming back again for more. It’s not enough for your organization to make sense to exist, it must instead feel right and feel good.
Unfortunately, logic is valued above emotion in most organizations. Thinking and talking about how people feel about your organization at the heart or emotional level is not something that happens very often – if ever. And yet, it is when we can access and assess this information that can only be found in the heart of our clients that we will get the truth to the question: Do we really matter? Would anyone care if we didn’t exist?
If you are struggling to answer this question positively, spend time working at changing things. As an organization consider what you can do to matter in the minds and hearts of people. How can you be different, what can set you apart, and what can make what you do invaluable enough that it can’t be replaced? The answers to these questions are your strategy for sustainability and success.
Organizations that last – that stick around and even grow do so because there are people who care passionately and at an emotional level about the product or service they provide. It’s not enough to matter in the minds of people, we must matter in the hearts of people.