Only 1-in-20 companies are elite
Many of today’s most compelling companies don’t just sell products — they create emotionally connected relationships with their customers. These exceptional organizations do two things very well: they design radically empathetic products or foster truly transparent relationships with their customers. They practice an “outward focus” and are adept at uncovering and solving problems customers may not even be aware of yet. The elite organizations are respected, admired and even liked. They care about how they show up. Yet, most organizations are not elite and here’s why.
Gallup’s latest State of the American Workplace research is essential reading for leaders looking to build and retain elite organizations. The most current survey extends to 31 million people and uncovered that over half of everyone in the workplace (51%) are searching for a new job.
The research showed that 78 percent of employees don’t believe their leadership has a clear direction for the organization. Similarly, 87 percent of employees do not strongly agree that their leaders communicate effectively. And Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends shows that only 8% of large companies believe their structure is optimized. Most teams are not in alignment and are partially checked out.
The Elite Behaviors
Research by Scott Kelly and Mary Meaney observed that when teams align on a common vision, they are 190% more likely to deliver above-median financial performance. High performing teams collectively (and internally) set a high bar for growth. My research estimates that 3%-to-5% percent of leaders and organizations are truly elite. What’s their secret?
- Elite teams commit to a set of values and culture which pulls them forward towards their higher calling. These organizations allow everyone to influence change and make critical decisions in the best interest of the enterprise. They hire curious talent who are committed to their own self-learning and development.
- Elite teams value psychological safety, allowing individuals to enter difficult conversations and voice dissent.
- Elite teams practice radical simplification, focusing instead on developing expertise and mastery within fewer domains. They protect tribal knowledge, institutionalizing and building on their distinct culture and capabilities.
We are not capable of becoming elite unless curiosity is fostered and context is expanded. High performers normally have a broader understanding of the context surrounding them, including exposure to diverse challenges, people, competitive threats, and customer requests. The highest performing teams are more well-rounded and comprised of diverse and varied viewpoints.
Elite organizations understand their calling, their team’s assets, and their unique communication styles. All of this self-analysis is meant to drive the best from each other.
They ask a different question: “Where do we need to focus and what do we need to learn in order to become distinct and elite?”
Dan Mack is the founder of Mack Elevation and a performance coach, strategist and the author of “Dark Horse: How Challenger Companies Rise to Prominence.”
Special Report: New General Market Purpose-Driven Summit
The retail game has changed — shifting consumer demographics, and the accompanying changes in demands — have forced retailers and suppliers to re-assess their approach. As Dan Mack explained at the outset of the New General Market Purpose-Driven Summit, put on by Drug Store News and Mack Elevation in June, “It’s about purpose. It’s about soul.”
It is no longer simply enough to put something on the shelf and expect it to sell — consumers need to feel connected to the brand they’re buying. The event brought together more than 100 retailer and supplier executives, who heard from seven speakers and three panels about the different ways purpose can play a role in growing their business. Click the links below to read the individual reports.
- Mack emphasizes need for high-level engagement
- Sundial’s Dennis emphasizes potential for needs-based innovation
- Panelists identify their brands’ driving forces
- Mastering the digital landscape
- Clarity through purpose
- Retail panelists seek alignment around purpose
- Gen Z emerges as influential digital-first segment
- Brands panelists look to build emotional connections
- Coty’s social listening yields results
- Brandless takes minimalist approach to purpose
New General Market: Brandless takes minimalist approach to purpose
Brandless has not only eliminated unwanted additives from its products — it also has streamlined the decision-making process for consumers with its highly curated online assortment.
The San Francisco-based company, which launched in July of last year, offers a minimal assortment of grocery and CPG products all featuring clean ingredient formulations that seek to address consumers’ most common concerns about their health and the environment, said Rachael Vegas, chief merchant at Brandless, in a presentation at the New General Market Purpose-Driven Summit presented by Drug Store News and Mack Elevation.
Brandless also features a simplified pricing model that is akin to a dollar-store strategy — every item is priced at $3 each, or in some cases two for $3 or three for $3. One of the driving forces in the creation of Brandless was the concept that consumers should not have to pay a premium for
better-for-you products, Vegas said. That concept is especially important as younger consumers increasingly seek out these types of products, and at the same time are comfortable looking online for the best deals.
“It’s our tenet at Brandless that everybody should have access to better product, and that it doesn’t have to cost as much as our system right now forces it to cost,” said Vegas, who spent 13 years at Target before joining Brandless.
Consumers also are increasingly skeptical of established, mainstream brands, Vegas said, and they expect companies “to have some deeper social purpose than just making a profit.”
Along those lines, Brandless has embraced hunger relief as a cause and donates a meal to Feeding America for every order placed on its website.
Just What Matters
The company’s merchandising strategy is built around the concept it describes as “Just What Matters,” a three-pronged approach that includes simplified assortment, clean ingredient formulations and efficient packaging design.
“At the end of the day, people are overwhelmed by how much choice they have — and we’re talking about choice around reasonably simple things,” Vegas said.
A search for lotion on Amazon might yield tens of thousands of results, compared with six or seven on Brandless, for example.
The Brandless website lists a single variety of many common items, including ketchup and mustard, as well as a larger selection of items in such categories as snacks, where consumers like to experiment with different flavors.
Most of the food assortment is organic, and many items tout other attributes consumers are seeking, such as no sugar added, gluten-free and vegan.
In the beauty category, Brandless offers products that are free from nearly 500 ingredients “that are questionable and that some consumers have said they don’t want in their products,” including parabens and sulfates, Vegas said.
Brandless also has paid close attention to its packaging, which is designed to be practical and sized appropriately to minimize waste and preserve freshness. True to its name, the company eschews traditional package branding in favor of simple, straightforward labeling that identifies the product inside, along with a checklist of the attributes the company believes consumers are most interested in, including “organic” and “made with whole grains.”
“In every category, we’ve really defined those attributes that we think matter most to consumers, and that we don’t want them to have to go searching for on our package,” Vegas said.
This story is part of a Special Report on the New General Market Purpose-Driven Summit — to read more insights, click here.