A Journey Into Organizational Self-Discovery
Every organization — from a Fortune 500 multinational, to a governmental agency to a homeless shelter — is capable of achieving excellence provided it is willing to look at itself in the mirror and conduct an honest self-assessment of its commitments to the future, the customer, the mission and the process. Such an organizational self-appraisal is at the heart of The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization. The book focuses on the five fundamental questions originally penned by the late Peter F. Drucker, the father of modern management theory. This pithy tome delves into an organization’s reason for being, including how it develops an intimate understanding of the customer and what the customer values. According to the authors, an assessment provides the tools for understanding how well the organization is doing, ending with a measurable, results-focused strategic plan to further the mission and achieve specific goals.
Published with the prestigious Leader to Leader Institute, The Five Most Important Questions provides business leaders with an insightful road map to gaining honest feedback. Along the way, the book takes numerous detours into further analysis, thought and introspection. Properly unpacked, these resources provide a valuable lens through which an organization can gain a more accurate assessment of its effectiveness.
The Customer Imperative
Each of the book’s five questions is illustrated by a typically insightful narrative from Peter Drucker. In each chapter, one of Drucker’s questions is amplified by one of today’s foremost business thought leaders in a style more evocative of an illuminating conversation than a book.
For instance, reflecting on the topic of customer value, Drucker notes that businesses must align their products and service results with input they receive from their customers. “The danger is in acting on what you believe satisfies the customer,” he writes. “You will inevitably make wrong assumptions.”
Businesses should not try to be all things to all people, responds Philip Kotler, a professor of international marketing at the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management in Chicago. Instead, companies should try to develop an intimate understanding of the customer that will affect everything: designing products and features, distribution, marketing and pricing.
“Many companies have adopted customer relationship management, meaning that they collect loads of information about transactions and encounters with their customers,” Kotler writes. “Simply managing data about customers is no substitute for ensuring that the customers are satisfied with their experience of the company.”
Alignment Ensures Excellence
The Five Most Important Questions should be used as an inspiring resource for organizations and the people who lead them, according to co-author Frances Hesselbein, chairman of the Leader to Leader Institute and former CEO of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. “The ultimate beneficiaries of this very simple process,” Hesselbein writes, “are the people or customers touched by your organization ...”