competitive advantage

Talk about upsetting the applecart!

We’re taught at a very early age (OK maybe not that early) to put the customer first, to revolve the business around the customer and that the customer is King. But now we’re taking step back from that and questioning whether it is our employees that should come first.

Would you deliver exceptional customer value by putting your employees at the top of the pile? It makes sense doesn’t it? Look after the people in the organisation and put them first, invest in them and by default they will better deliver to you customers. This is exactly what Vineet Nayar chief executive of HCL, India’s largest IT services is advocating in his book Employees First, Customers Second.

HCL have put employees at the centre of HCL’s organisational structure and moved management out of their way. He’s essentially turned the hierarchical organisational pyramid on its head, arguing that it is the people at the coalface that are in the value exchange with the customer and it is those people that should be put first if the company is to maintain its competitive advantage.

Nayar says in his interview with the UK’s Daily Telegraph “My view is that CEOs in the traditional sense are fast becoming irrelevant, and the sooner they realise that, the more successful they will be. CEOs don’t have to be great talkers, but they do have to be great listeners.”

But what would you say about this if you had a couple of million invested in the company? Well, I guess the proof of the pudding is in the eating. With HCL’s sales and operating income having tripled over four years, you might say – Impressive.

So, I guess the next time you look at reviewing your profitability and drive to extend your competitive advantage in the marketplace, it’s probably worth turning to the people in the organisation – invest and nurture them, and the rest, as they say, will come.

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