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Make A Promise

by Doug Davidoff | May 15, 2006 11:46:17 AM

As companies look for ways to reinvigorate both the quality and rate of their growth in the post-industrial-age marketplace, I’ve found they struggle at a critical first step – making a promise. Jim Collins in his book, “Good To Great", asked the now-famous question, “What can your company be the best in the world at?”.

Answering this question is critical if you want to be able to make a compelling promise – not just to the market, but to the people who work with you, as well. If you can’t answer it, quality growth will always be simply another item on your wish list.

Notice, however, that Collins does not ask, “what is your company the best in the world at,” he asks “what can your company be the best in the world at.” It is rare that a company is already the best at what it wants to best at. By extension, it is rare that a company is capable of delivering on the promise it makes at the time it makes the promise. It’s something you have to grow into.

In fact, I don’t recommend choosing a promise you can deliver right now. As I’ve written before, to truly differentiate yourself, you have to have the courage to make a promise your competition either cannot or will not emulate. Be definition, this means you must promise something that doesn’t currently exist.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not okay to make a promise that you will never be able to deliver. But don’t wait until you are able to deliver a promise before you make it. This is not a chicken or egg question. Make the promise and you will develop your ability to deliver it. A compelling promise should not only excite your potential clients, it should excite your team as well.

The point is this: decide what you can be the best at and put all your efforts behind achieving that vision. Don’t get hung up figuring out exactly what you do now. Decide what you can do and start trying to do it. The triggers for growth are always hidden inside your efforts to make and keep big promises.