Do you know how to hit the peak?

Get your team and company to peak!

I read a book that seems to fit perfectly with some of the questions we’ve been asking as we think towards 2012.

Peak by Chris Conley (click here to buy*) is a book about deciding what matters.

After climbing to the peak of the hospitality industry, Chip Conley—CEO and founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality—was rocked to its foundation and suddenly undercapitalized and overexposed in the post-9/11 economy. This situation made Conley reconnect with psychologist Abraham Maslow‘s iconic concept of the Hierarchy of Needs and rely on Maslow’s theory of human motivation to help his business flourish once more.

In his book entitled Peak, Conley explores how he applied translations of Maslow’s ideas to his company’s business practices and brought it back to the top.

Conley looks at a company from three perspectives.  The employee, the customer and the investor.

From the employee’s POV:

People want to work for a cause, not just for a living. Conley, suggests there are three kinds of relationships someone can have with work: You can either have a job, a career or a calling.

Meaning in work relates to how an employee feels about their specific job task. It is the achievement of meaning at work that realizes transformation. So how can meaning at work be achieved? Conley believes an employee must align intrinsically to the mission of the company. If the company can identify its higher calling: what philanthropic, strategic or humanistic mast it “pins its colors to” – then the employee can in turn find meaning.

From the customer’s POV:

The greatest risk facing a company?  Getting comfortable with purely satisfying customers rather than delighting them. When a company’s leadership is focussed purely on meeting the expectations of their customers, the company can become a sitting duck for a surprise competitor with a new mousetrap.

To address the unrecognized need of its loyal customers, companies need to find a way to give them what Conley calls “an identify refresh” – some status, some belonging. How do you do that?

The first step is to be willing to ask: What business are you in? (much like we asked ourselves — what do you really sell?)

Like Apple or Harley Davison, can we offer something beyond the product?   What are the unrecognized needs of our customers? Apple positioned themselves at the top of the pyramid bysuggesting to customers that with an Apple product you can do anything –technology is the byproduct.

Harley Davidson, through HOG owner groups created a social connection.

How can you do it? Help your customers meet their highest goals. Give your customers the ability to truly express themselves. Make your customers feel like they are part of a bigger cause. Ultimately, offer your customers something of real value that they hadn’t even imagined.

Conley’s book is loaded with thoughtful, educational stories and counsel for entrepreneurs as well as Fortune 500 managers, taken from his own hard earned experience as well as other business books. One of the best features of the book are Conley’s numbered lists sprinkled throughout the book.

I think you’ll find this one both inspirational and actionable.  A good year end read! (want more inspiration?  Check out Conley’s TED talk.)



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