The following is an excerpt from edition #2 of The Pulse: Insights for Strategy Leaders. Enjoy the content? Enter your email in the form below to subscribe.
I wanted to kick things off by thanking you all for the overwhelming positive feedback and support from the first edition of our newsletter 👏. It means a lot to the team here at Elate, and is further validation of the incredible Strategy and Operations Community we are building alongside all of you.
In the last edition of our newsletter (and, ironically, our first) we shared some insights on a common challenge we are seeing with companies we work with - how to help your teams and employees discern where they should be spending their time ⏰.
It’s no secret that many employees today suffer from a sense of priority fatigue. With resource constraints, hiring freezes, or budgetary cuts, employees are being asked to do more than ever before.
But this got me thinking… while the economic climate has undoubtedly impacted individual contributors, how is it affecting the top-level priorities for organizations as a whole?
To help answer this question, I couldn’t think of a better resource to turn to than my co-founder and Elate’s COO, Abby Parker. What we found was pretty incredible in showing where leading companies are spending their time and resources.
Let’s jump into edition #2!
Company Themes: A Strategic Shift from Net New to Customer Satisfaction
Before jumping into the data, let’s quickly talk about Themes.
What are Company Themes?
Themes represent the utmost priorities for an organization. They are usually established annually by the CEO or executive team and serve as the 3-5 key focus areas for that year or multiple years. All departmental objectives, which are typically defined on a quarterly basis, should align with and contribute to the overarching theme.
Why Are Company Themes Important?
Themes hold significant importance as they establish the tone and direction for the organization. They offer a sense of focus and clarity while allowing teams the freedom to determine how they can best contribute to and support the achievement of the theme. They should serve as a source of inspiration for the team and are sometimes referred to as rallying cries 🔈.
Let’s look at a few examples:
- Revenue Focused: Increase Market Share, Grow Revenue 3x, Monetize Existing Base
- Operational Focused: Improve Efficiency, Operational Excellence, Focus On Scalability
- Culture Focused: Invest In Our People, Lead With Team + Culture, Community Engagement
- Customer Focused: Drive Indispensability, Improve User Satisfaction, Create Raving Fans
As we've mentioned, we are well aware that the economic landscape has undergone significant changes compared to a year ago. Due to this, we sought to understand how top-performing companies have adjusted their focus to become more dynamic and proactive in response to the current market conditions.
The findings were pretty intriguing...
You could even say there was a common theme (pun intended). From 2022 to 2023, we witnessed a significant increase in references to "Customers/Customers", with a jump of over 55% included in 2023 Themes.
Furthermore, there was a notable rise ⬆️ in other significant keywords such as Economic, Delivery, Improvement, Service, Frictionless, Value, Brand, Satisfaction, and EBITDA. These trends indicate that companies are increasingly prioritizing the successful delivery of value to the customers they collaborate with.
Additionally, this trend was corroborated by the decrease ⬇️ in keywords such as Attract, Net, Acquisition, Develop, Market, Portfolio, and New. Notably, "New" was the third most commonly used keyword in 2022 but dropped to ninth place in 2023.
It is evident that individuals and organizations are directing their attention towards achieving growth through the customers they currently serve.
So what’s this all mean? 🤔
In today's economic climate, we are witnessing a significant shift in priorities and areas of focus at the highest level of businesses. Companies are no longer solely concentrated on achieving net new growth; instead, they are placing a strong emphasis on their existing customer base, striving to provide value that renders them indispensable. After all, when you can reduce the leakage, it becomes easier to keep the bucket full.
So, where does this matter the most? Let's be clear: if you believe that a decade of instilling a "Growth at All Costs" mindset in employees can be reversed overnight, you are likely living in an alternate reality.
It is insufficient to solely shift the company's focus at the Executive Level or make minor adjustments to account for a decline in net new growth and an increase in customer expansion. The entire organization needs to be aligned with the overarching Theme.
This alignment should be evident in how engineering prioritizes product features and in the deliberate focus on the ICP throughout the go-to-market process. Each employee needs to have your Themes top of mind in how they work.
Therefore, it is crucial not to underestimate the significance of effective communication with employees when your organization just underwent a monumental shift in focus from what has prevailed for us all over the past decade.
Episode 44 🎧: The Importance of Perspective in Strategy and Operations
Our latest episode of Aspiring Ops* was joined by Mike Sellberg, Chief Product Officer and Chief of Staff at Coviance.
Mike shares his experience in scaling companies (including two successful IPOs) and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
Our biggest takeaway? The more perspectives and lenses you have on your side, the greater chance you have at propelling your company forward.
💭 Planning Season is Around the Corner...
We're beginning to work with more and more companies to help set their planning calendar for the fall.
One thing we've learned after working with hundreds of companies is that this schedule looks different for everyone, but it can be very tough to lift your heads out of the day-to-day fires to focus on 2024.
But I can tell you from experience that if you don't start focusing on 2024 soon, your 2024 self will regret it.
What are you doing now to set up for success next year? If you haven't given it thought, it may be time.
Subscribe to get the rest of the content.
*Aspiring Ops was created to amplify the voices of world-class strategy and operations leaders as they share their personal stories and provide practical steps towards success. With over 50 episodes it has become a top podcast in our field. Available wherever you get your podcasts. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.