Are You And Your Business ‘Thinking in 3D’?


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Businesses today face ‘challenging’ times! Ever rising customer and employee expectations, increasing and intensifying competition (coming from further afield), greater transparency, reduction in trust and customer loyalty, rapidly shifting technology, the increasing pace and dramatic effects of change, and squeezes on resources and margins are just some of the issues the leaders of today tell us they face.

Some businesses aren’t just ‘surviving’ in this competitive environment – they’re ‘thriving’! How are they doing it? Our research suggests it’s about ‘Differentiation’! They do things that competitors aren’t doing – even better, it’s things that competitors can’t do! We call them 3D Businesses and they are ‘Dramatically and Demonstrably Different’ from their competitors!

How do they ‘Do It’? Well, there are no ‘magical answers’, but there are clearly some ‘common characteristics’ that differentiate them from their competitors. We’ve spent over 20 years researching and working with these 3D Businesses, and have identified some of these characteristics – Not a list of do’s and don’ts, but 7 common characteristics that we see consistently in what they do, and how they do it.

Let me stress, this is NOT a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ or ‘magical answers’ (are there any?), but a ‘way of doing things’. It’s a model for business competitiveness with principles and processes that can be adapted and developed into your business.

So, here are the 7 Characteristics. Have a look and see how your business measures up. More importantly, work out what you need to DO to get ‘Thinking in 3D’!

3D Characteristic #1: Get That Vision Thing!

3D Businesses know where they’re going! All their people do too! They have a clear vision that ‘inspires, engages and motivates’ everyone in the business. Not a set of financial figures or ‘pie in the sky’ dreams, but a meaningful picture of the future that creates focus, direction, passion and commitment. Their leaders create sufficient time thinking and working ‘strategically’ ON the business, not just in it.

They proactively develop committed, motivated and effective people at every level and get ‘buy in’ to their vision. They ensure that everyone understands where they ‘fit in’ and how they are doing…. that means creating, encouraging and rewarding ‘leadership’ at every level of the business!
• Have you got a vision that ‘stimulates, excites and inspires’?
• Have all your people bought into it?
• Does it drive your business?

3D Characteristic #2: Think in 3D!

3D Businesses recognise that ‘same as sucks’ and strive to do things that makes them ‘stand out from the crowd’, get people talking about them and telling others. It’s about establishing a ‘Dramatic Difference’: an unmatchable ‘bundle’ of products, services, skills, methods and practices that differentiate the business from its competitors”. The challenge is to ‘Demonstrate’ that Difference – it’s about ensuring everyone understands it and the role they play in delivering it.

Dramatic Difference’ is only any good if customers want it, recognise it, and are prepared to pay (more) for it. 3D Businesses ‘choose ‘em or lose ‘em’! That means that they ‘choose’ the customers they want to work with, and differentiate themselves in their chosen markets. They also ensure that their business generating activity ‘delivers’.
• What’s your ‘Dramatic Difference’?
• Can customers recognise it in everything you do?
• Do you focus on the ‘right’ customers?

3D Characteristic #3: Create ‘Delighted’ And ‘Devoted’ Customers!

3D Businesses often ‘Demonstrate’ their ‘Dramatic Difference’ by creating ‘delighted’ and ‘devoted’ customers. Customers who come back for more and tell others. It starts with being ‘easy to buy from’ and ‘easy to deal with’ in every customer interaction and it means everyone focussing on customers wherever they are in the business.

They strive to ‘Delight’ their customers! Not ‘have a nice day’, or ‘buy one get one free’ gimmicks, but going the extra mile and ‘exceeding customer expectations’. By definition, this subsequently raises customer expectations – 3D Businesses relish and embrace this, and work hard to raise the bar. They make their customers feel ‘valued’ and ‘devoted’ to the business – they have high expectations and consistently receive a great experience (‘great’ as defined by the customers, not the business!)
• How easy are you to do buy from and do business with?
• How do you exceed your customers’ expectations?
• Do you do it consistently?

3D Characteristic #4: Forget CRM, Think MCR! Maximise Customer Relationships!

3D Businesses have a total customer focus and are proactive (even obsessive!) in focusing their efforts and resources to demonstrate it! It’s not about CRM, but it’s about MCRMaximising Customer Relationships: proactively developing relationships that give the best to and get the best from the customers that they want.

MCR is not a one way relationship, and is definitely not a passive thing. It’s about engagement. As a result, they develop ‘dialogue, not diatribes’ and work hard at ongoing engagement with their customers, their networks and their communities. A pro-active approach to spotting and maximising opportunities is an integral ingredient too. In simple terms, ‘maximising‘ opportunities is the pay off! They train, develop and encourage their people to maximise those relationships!
• How good are you at building and maximising relationships with the right customers?
• Do you and your people know who those ‘right’ customers are?
• Are you maximising opportunities with your customers?

3D Characteristic #5: Create An UBER Culture!

In 3D Businesses, ‘culture’ is an integral part of their Dramatic Difference and gives customers reasons to come back and to tell others. Their ‘culture’ is very tangible and customers experience that ‘culture’ simply by talking to and interacting with employees, whether it’s by email, on the telephone or face to face.

We define ‘culture’ as ‘the way we do things around here’ and 3D Businesses work hard to create an UBER ‘culture’ that creates real competitive advantage and reinforce their ‘Dramatic Difference’. They ensure that: everyone Understands the culture and what’s expected of the them and that employees consistently behave in line with that culture; Systems and processes are Built to reinforce and support that culture; employees are Encouraged, Enabled and Empowered to live the culture; and they Reward and Recognise those that ‘live’ it!.
• Are you totally happy with ‘the way you do things around here’?
• Are your people clear about the ‘behaviours’ expected of them?
• Do your systems and processes reinforce the culture you need?

3D Characteristic #6: KeeP In Control!

In this ever increasingly fast paced world, getting and keeping in control is critical. 3D Businesses establish and use Key Performance Indicators to lead and drive the business, and provide their people who need it, the information they need, when they need it, in a format they understand! It’s all about sharing information with people in a format they can use, and it’s about giving them the authority and skills to use it! Information is good, but it’s what you do with it that counts! They also establish a clear profit focus and get ownership of the ‘numbers’ at every level. It’s called ‘empowerment’, and 3D Businesses excel at this!
• Do you get the information you need, when you need it, in the format you need it in, to maximise the performance of your business ?
• Do your people?
• Do you have a real ‘profit’ focus…. at every level of the business?

3D Characteristic #7: Innovati’ON’!

3D Businesses recognise that Developing their Dramatic Difference is an ongoing process, and consistently build on what they’ve got. It’s about ‘innovatiON’ – that’s the ‘successful exploitation of new ideas’ – not necessarily lots of new products and services, only hiring ‘creative types’ and hours of ‘blue sky thinking’.

It’s about having proactive systems and processes to improve what they do, creating a supportive climate for ideas generation, encouraging people to constructively challenge what they do, and creating time and resource to make the ideas work!

3D Businesses create time, systems and processes for making innovation work and encourage (insist) their people do the same. They recognise that ‘standing still’ actually means ‘going backwards’ and they therefore drive and develop their Dramatic Difference continuously. It is not left to chance!
• Are you inundated with ideas in your business?
• Do you have any systems or processes to generate ideas?
• How much time do you focus on making the ideas happen?

So, how do you measure up? How have you scored yourself? Why not see what others think? Ask your people, remove your blind spots – it’s what 3D Businesses do!

Want more? Our latest book Think in 3D! The 7 Characteristics Of Dramatically And Demonstrably Different Businesses is available as a paperback and Kindle e-book here. For a limited time, it is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD!

Andy Hanselman
Hi there! I help businesses and their people create competitive advantage by 'Thinking in 3D'! That means being 'Dramatically and Demonstrably Different'! I research, speak about, write about and work with businesses to help them maximise their sales and marketing, their customer service and their customer relationships.


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