Fundamental #21: Always Make it Better
The 30 Fundamentals that make up the “ConnectSMART Way” describe how we want to run our business – the way we treat our clients, the way we work with each other, and even the way we relate to our vendors and suppliers. They’re who we are and they’re the foundation of our success. They drive everything we do, every day. Each week we focus on a different fundamental and discuss in depth.[/content_box]
Fundamental #21: Always Make it Better
Whether it’s a relationship, a product, a service, or the community, make a positive difference. Be a source for good. Make the world a better place.
When we think back to our childhood we all remember a different time then what we live in today. Typically we remember (maybe through rose colored glasses) a better time. I remember growing up in a different world than the one we live in today. No one was afraid to walk down the street. My parents didn’t worry if they didn’t hear from me the entire day. I would be out hunting or exploring, ridisng bikes, skateboarding – whatever but never was there a concern for safety. Especially when you have kids you start to lament where we are today and the dichotomy of today versus how we grew up. Several years ago a friend of mine recommended a book called “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think”. It sounded to me like one of these hocus pocus books that are all fairies and unicorns and I didn’t bother to read it for about a year. When I finally read it I had a hard time putting it down. The basic premise of the book is that in reality we are better off today than we have ever been in history and the potential is even greater! We find ourselves accustomed to technology and conveniences today that were science fiction a decade ago and take them for granted. Patrick exemplifies this very well when I have been complaining about flight delays and the fact I had to have a layover on the flight from Florida to California. I find myself complaining that it took a whole day to get across the country and Patrick reminds me that in the grand scheme of things the fact that you can travel 2327 miles in a day instead of weeks or months is pretty amazing and nothing to complain about! So it took me a couple extra hours – who cares? Abundance illustrates very well that the potential has increased to make life better in almost every way that matters exponentially. If you aren’t convinced read the book, I’ll be happy to give you a copy if you want it!
If you buy the premise (and the science and proof is there) then the only remaining question is what keeps us from realizing that potential? That is the crux of this fundamental. The assumption in the declarative is that we CAN make the world a better place. The difficulty is in the missing word. You. You have to make it better. The problem that we have today is that most people are waiting for something or someone to do it for them. This fundamental is not about appreciating that someone else made it better. While that is nice and we can reap the benefits of someone else’s labor – I have to do it. This has always been one of my greatest passions. I have always looked at Connections for Business and ConnectSMART as kind of the 3M of technology. We may not have created it, but we made it better. We have proven over the years that we do have a better way to provide enterprise technology and services to SMB businesses in a way that was never available before, and one of our biggest hurdles in ConnectSMART sales is showing people how they are getting access to technology and processes that was only available to the elite businesses before. Making it better is in the DNA of both companies. We are never satisfied with ‘good enough’. We are always pushing the envelope to be better. When you think about it, that is really our biggest selling proposition in almost everything we do – we do it better. That means that not everyone is a customer for us. The ones who are satisfied with what they have as ‘good enough’ aren’t really a fit. Our customer profile is the company who is looking for the business advantage of ‘better’. That is why our R/D budget as a small company is larger than many of our competitors total revenue!
But this fundamental goes beyond products and services. Every one of us is tasked with making it better. What is ‘it’? Products and services is easy, like I said it is in our DNA. It also translate to processes, relationships, and our community. What am I doing to make it better EVERY TIME? This isn’t just a competitive advantage, but a responsibility that we all have. It is my responsibility in every task to ‘always ask why’ (Fundamental # 7) and ‘check my ego at the door’ (Fundamental #6) and objectively see if there is a better way. One of the biggest roadblocks to making it better is our natural resistance to change(Fundamental #17). As the world and technology changes around us we have to be constantly looking for the opportunity to make “it” better. This goes beyond the business and the products and services we offer. This relates to the people and the world around us. This takes real effort. As I said before the tech side is easy. We can always leverage new technology and processes to make our delivery of products and services better. The relationships and community take our most precious commodity – time. It is a pretty simple transaction to ‘put your money where your mouth is’ but a whole different story when you are asked to put your time there! It is easy to donate money to a cause, because it is very transactional. You figure out how much money you can afford to spend and you write a check. Relationships and our community can’t be bought. The only currency you have are your time. The social ills that we all complain about can’t be solved with money. We want to believe that if we only had more money put to a particular cause it would make a difference, but I defy you to point out a single instance where money actually solved a problem permanently. It may have hidden the problem for a while, but it never causes positive change. It takes a lot more time and effort to teach someone to fish than to give them a fish.
Making it better requires engagement – yours and mine. We have to identify that the problem exists, what the potential resolution is, and then the commitment to do it. We can’t expect others to make it better for us. We have to shoulder that responsibility ourselves. So as we focus on this fundamental this week, I want to paraphrase JFK’s famous line – Ask not what others can to do make it better, but ask what can I do to make it better!