I once heard of a law firm that had one guiding principle that was ingrained in every single employee at every department from the time they were first hired. It goes like this: “You’re either serving the client, or you’re serving the person who’s serving the client. If you’re not, then what the heck are you doing?”
With this simple principle, they help get everyone on board and keep them on board day to day with the idea of serving the client, who is the whole purpose for the organization’s existence, anyway. The principle also helps ensure that so-called “support functions,” or those departments that may never have direct customer contact, understand that they play a very important role in the organization and that they, too, are stewards of the organization’s greatest asset, its customers! The “If you’re not, what the heck are you doing” part also serves as a compass to help keep each employee on task and to help avoid inefficiencies. If what we’re doing doesn’t ultimately benefit the customer, after all, why do it? In fact, this principle could help guide every decision the organization makes, like we discussed in the WTGBRFDT post a while back.
If guiding principles are taken seriously and are backed up by action, they can be some of the most powerful strategic tools an organization has. Drucker said the purpose of the organization is to create and serve the customer. We’re all serving the customer or serving someone who’s serving the customer, and if not, what the heck are we doing?