I recently read Charles G. Koch’s book “The Science of Success” and I love the way he reminds his readers what a real business is and how it can succeed. I can summarize this with two brief quotes from the book;
“In a true market economy, we can only prosper by providing others with what they value.” Charles G. Koch
“People benefit themselves by benefiting others.” Alexis de Tocqueville
A business or organization or individual will prosper by giving others what they value. The business or organization or individual will not prosper by trying to sell others a product or software that is not needed, not valued or not fit for purpose. People exchange their hard earned money for something that they value at least as much or more than the money they are parting with. It is a very simple but often overlooked concept!
So, as business leaders, how do we know what others value?
I think the answer to this is summed up neatly in this quote;
“Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone.” Margaret Wheatley
Basically, the science of success comes down to relationships. As business leaders we must understand who our customer is and what they need and what they value. These needs and values will change over time so we must stay closely engaged with our customers over the long term. This will also let us see potential needs even before the customer realizes they have a need (i.e., the iPad, iPod and iPhone were products that consumers had no experience with but highly valued once they were available).
Make it a goal this week to meet with at least two of your long term and valued customers and ask them for their pain points and what is keeping them up at night. Don’t try to sell them products, just listen to them and see what you can learn from them. Take what they say and what you learn and think about how you and your organization can meet these needs and add value to your customers.