Book Review – HOW: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything

How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything”, by Dov Seidman, John Wiley & Sons (2007)

We all want to stand out, to offer unique products or services, to be better, faster or cheaper. But forces like globalization have made it easier for competitors to copy, to lower prices or increase marketing. In the 21st century, companies have an increasingly hard time differentiating themselves by what they do. Having great products is just the cost of entry. The differentiator is shifting to something not so easily copied: customer relationships – how we do what we do.

Think about it. If you reach out and inspire more people throughout your global network, your productivity skyrockets. If you keep promises 99 percent of the time while your competitor delivers only 80% of the time, you can gain critical advantage in the marketplace. If your interactions with others deliver a more meaningful customer experience, you engender a loyalty that brings them back again and again.

There are four HOWs that drive great relationships: how we think, how we lead, how we behave and how we govern ourselves.

HOW We Think

Changing how we think means worrying less about what existing rules say you can do and focusing more on what you should do. This doesn’t mean breaking rules or looking for loopholes. An over-reliance on rules can stifle creativity. Look to your personal values for innovative approaches and let them drive your business decisions.

HOW We Lead

In a knowledge economy, information and ideas are everywhere. It makes no sense to try to hoard knowledge. Command and control leadership is a paradigm of the past. Today’s leaders must encourage their workforce and business partners to connect and collaborate to tap everyone’s experience and insights.

Leadership style needs to move beyond motivation to inspiration. Employees are being asked to deliver more than ever: work with global colleagues with different languages, cultures and time zones; delight customers and act as ambassadors and brand managers in discussions and social media. Inspiration comes from creating a vision of how the company makes a difference in the lives of employees, customers and the community.

HOW We Behave

Today’s business moves faster, spans the globe and is more fluid than ever. We depend on technology to work effectively together. Successful collaboration depends on our behaviors. Are we trustworthy, do we have a record of accomplishment and what do people say about us?

Our reputation is a critical success factor. If you buy from eBay, it is probably from vendors with the highest ratings. We might select a restaurant based on Yelp reviews. A reputation, our personal brand, is based on consistent performance, particularly one in which we exceed expectations.

HOW We Govern Ourselves

Governance creates tension between the ways a company seeks to control versus the culture that reflects the way things really happen. Instead of dictating culture, companies need to learn how to govern employees through the corporate culture.

Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest Airlines said: “If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don‘t need control. They know what needs to be done, and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to your cause on a voluntary basis, the fewer hierarchies and control mechanisms you need. We‘re looking for people who on their own initiative want to be doing what they‘re doing because they consider it to be a worthy objective.”

The freedom to self-govern can bind employees more tightly to the corporate values and common goals. This can be a significant competitive advantage. It is very difficult to copy a culture.

It is no longer WHAT you do that sets you apart from others, but HOW you do what you do. Your WHATs are easily duplicated or reverse-engineered. Enduring success – both for companies and the people who work for them – now lies in the realm of HOW, the new frontier of conduct.

One Response to “Book Review – HOW: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything”

  1. Priten Says:

    Dear Dr Jeff,

    Excellent article, this is so Apt for today especially when opnions, Point of view are “Crowd sourced”, thanks to social media

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