Book Excerpt: Finding Your Company's Soul

The following is an excerpt from the book, Lead by Greatness.

When a company has soul, the most innovative "how-tos" emerge miraculously from its "why"--and set it apart.

If satisfying your customers' intangible needs is so important to a differentiation strategy, how do you determine what those needs are? Customer research and surveys don't teach you how to differentiate. Your competitors conduct these same studies and get the same information you do. With the same data you are using, they design products that are the same or similar to the ones you would design. We've learned that knowing your customers' deeper needs--the needs that only you can satisfy--must come from within you rather than from external data collection.

Building your differentiation strategy is an inside-out process; it starts with your own core beliefs and those of your leadership team. It comes from discovering your corporate soul, the higher purpose of your company, and how to use this to satisfy your customers' intangible needs and to address their deeper insecurities. You will want to know not only what product your customers want from you, but also, why they want it. Armed with this knowledge and understanding, you have an advantage that no one can take from you. To get to this point though, you'll need to answer some questions.

First, there are the basic questions you address every time you sit down to a strategic planning session, such as what your company does, how and when it does it, and where it aspires to go. But these questions are just previews to the one question you really need to know the answer to. The missing question is "Why?"

Why are you in this business and why is your company here? What is the higher purpose for which your organization has come into being? Your company's existence is no accident of circumstance; it is here to do something no other organization can do.

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