Tear up your strategy – if your customers are tearing their hair out

Think about this. Its simple, and true.

Based on the kind of experience that consumers have with a company selling products/ services to them, these consumers will categorise that company as one of: 

Category 1 – A company they love. They willingly visit and purchase from the company’s product mix, over and over.

Category 2 – A company they are fairly indifferent about. They purchase from these kind of companies without much inner emotive rumblings, whether positive or negative..

Category 3 – A company they detest. At every opportunity, customers will deliberately avoid the offerings of these companies. Customers pull their hair out over these companies’ failures.

Can your company answer two related questions here, and would your leadership understand the dangers of the answers it may unearth?

  1. “In which category do your customers see your company?”, and
  2. “Does your company know what its customers would answer here?”

Do your customers experience your company like this?Listen up, companies in category 3. Your customers are not real customers. They are not even close to being customers. Real customers want to support your business. Instead, people who detest your company are your detractors, AND they are highly efficient broadcasters of your slack company and its failings. For one thing, the age of social media makes that broadcast possible, making both customers and detractors powerful.

Whether intended or not, all companies – of all sizes – are owners of brand. Some companies become big well-known brands because they get their business alignment right, and with heavy primary focus on a great relationship with their target market consumers.

However, other companies fade away and never became brand-of-choice because they fail somewhere, and sometimes miserably, in the roll-out of their strategy. Their churn of clients is high, and that is a very expensive way of maintaining a client base. These companies have poor brand.

There is an irony here. Detractors who are pulling their hair out over a company’s failures are simultaneously a hidden gift to that company. Acknowledged speedily, these people are early warning indicators. They are fundamental opportunities to pull things right in the company, but that window of opportunity to improve is narrow and can be fleeting. Complaining customers and detractors are letting the company know that it is not aligned. They are telling the business that its strategy is wrong, and that the distributions to, and engagement of, its clients are also wrong. It is also highly likely that the processes and agility of this kind of business are poor.

Further listen up … category 2 companies who are potentially shifting towards becoming category 3. Companies that start getting it wrong for a protracted time will ultimately face a growing army of detractors (unhappy ex-clients). These companies require a new strategy. Unfortunately, this can require brand re-development to shift away from the failed brand. Hand-in-hand comes product re-development, process re-engineering and very often new staff. Employees don’t often stick around waiting for happy days to return when all they have for job-satisfaction is the constant wrath of clients. Cost escalation in a business correcting its failing business model is way better than potential profit obliteration in a company refusing to improve.

The simple truth here is: if your company is not in category 1 above, your company has issues with its business alignment. In some companies a growth or shrinkage phase can drive unforeseen misalignment, in others it could be symptoms arising out of merger activities, and in other companies it could dangerously be the result of apathy.

Shifting to become a category 1 company listed above will require a strategy underpinned by alignment in culture, operations, processes, supply & demand chains management, marketing and customer engagement.

Is it time to review how your company meets these business alignment criteria?

Contact us if you would like to know more about how we can  assist your company to accurate business alignment and better profitability

Invite us to an open discussion with your executive and management team.
In under one hour we’ll provide insights that your company will find extremely valuable.

Contact us  

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Vision in companies and how it contributes to success

Vision is the big picture that companies set out where they are going to. At the start-up of most companies the vision is powerful, and focused in the mind of the entrepreneur.

If the company is to be successful, then attached to that vision is the aligned strategy – i.e. the plan that needs to be adhered to in order to achieve the vision. A good strategy determines the whole operational and market alignment, people alignment, the look-and-feel of the organisation’s culture and how that culture shapes up when tested in the activity of achieving the vision.

As the company starts to enjoy growth, more people enter the company. This is when the vision can become diluted and a little murky. The knock-on effect of dilution is that the strategy can become distracted – because the vision is becoming less clear.This is symptomatic of any organisation in the process of growth.

Growth times can be exciting for the sake of growth, yet brutally frustrating for the founder entrepreneur, and the expanding team of senior management. The orientation and alignment of the growing number of resources, is critical here. Too often both the people and operational assets are acquired and focussed on their functional excellence and ability to “do their jobs” – yet they potentially can be working in a void, unaware of the strategy and unknowingly isolated from the bigger picture.

These shifts away from strategic direction and towards other focus areas, cost businesses money. A lot of money.

To limit this negative financial impact, vision needs to be constantly refined as growth occurs. This is smart business practice. The vision as a picture becomes bigger and the strategy needs to take into consideration the additional elements and new variables such as new competitors, new market nuances and cash-flow stresses.  

The trick here in the strategy is two-fold:

  1. To ensure that the strategy is still applicable to the growing vision, and
  2. The communication of that strategy to the workforce so that it remains meaningful and relevant to them and their efforts.

Crystal clear vision, backed up by alignment across all of: strategy, operations, positioning, processes, and cash-flow management,  makes this kind of business a competitive force to be reckoned with.

How clear is your company’s vision? Has it been properly adjusted, focussed and backed up with impressive strategy?

Contact us if you would like to know more about organisational vision and how business alignment can assist your company to better profitability.

Business alignment

Invite us to an open discussion with your executive and management team.
In under one hour we’ll provide insights that your company will find extremely valuable.

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Talent management in recessionary times

Currently our world economy is taking our organisations into areas of stress and the need for change at a speed unseen in the major part of the past century. The stresses that I speak of are the pressing requirement for companies and leaders to urgently and radically see things differently, to do things differently, and achieve a different outcome. The requirement to deal with change has moved from one of coping to one where change has become a strategic given in order to get through this recessionary time. Failure to embrace change with open and visionary eyes, and see it as the lifeline to a future, is not only dangerous but foolhardy. So the question is “Where is the determined change to be applied?”

Here are some areas that historically businesses could have applied change to: innovation in technology, enhanced marketing practices to penetrate deeper into markets and to open new ones, and re-engineered process design. These are all well and good to direct investment into, but I would be likely to say that the human element would have been neglected and if that is the case, the investment returns are precariously balanced in the long term. Using the construction of a house as a diagrammatic illustration of my point, I consider the roof to represent the security from bad weather, the walls to represent the disciplines of marketing, innovation, finance, quality control, operations (as a few), the plinth to represent the pool of human capital within an organisation, and the steel reinforced foundations to be the vision, values and the concomitant strategies of the leadership of the organisation.

In the current economic maelstrom the roof has been blown off and the security that organisations enjoyed historically has flown the coop. The loss of this security threatens the stability, integrity and solidity of market share, threatens funding to innovate and will continue to create instability in many disciplines within companies. The security that came from the roof above, now has to be replaced with a security from below, that is, from the human capital. This wealth and body of skills, knowledge, experience and capacity to be creative in tough times has to be the area of keenly applied interest and investment that leaders must allocate to so that they may see light of day.

Again, I ask a question of the scenario: “Who is the human capital (the talent) that primarily needs to be optimised?” Your executive leadership base right now is your edge, complemented by the middle management tiers, and ultimately reinforced by the skills of the workforce and their disposition to creatively apply those skills to higher performance levels.

The retention of talent, sharing of knowledge, diversification of skills and risk mitigation of the migration of human capital will ultimately be the tangible outcomes arising through well applied talent management. In order that talent management is applied effectively the defining, refining and redeployment of the talent pool needs to be undertaken at every level in the organisation – from executive level, to divisional level, to departmental level…..all the while, this defining, refining, and redeployment being overseen by leaders at each level who themselves are being groomed for the future that is already upon us. This grooming process encompasses all the communication aspects that management is exposed to, but in order for this process to be effective, these to-and-fro communications up and down the channels and across them have to meet at a point called “connection”.  

With connection, all aspects of communication sink deeply into individuals and teams and their ability to perform at distinctly higher levels because they become equipped with understanding. The way in which we at Polarity Consulting see this connectivity being achieved is via the profiling and determination of environmental constants and variables that we offer our clients during the talent management process, and guiding them through changes. The objective is to remove disconnection and institute the connectivity that makes teams dynamic and successful.  

This connectivity unlocks creative potential to bring forth solution minded behavior and a freedom of expression of ideas that frees up senior leadership to take care of the strategic concerns of the organisation.

Contact us to do an insightful talk to your company about these ideas.




Phone:           +27 (0)11 792 5394

People are your competitive edge

The greatest asset you have is people. Whether at a personal level or at a business level we simply have to nurture people to see the successes of our individual and corporate lives unfold.

A scenario will help obviate my thinking here. Imagine the scenario of your family and friends. Review the level of successes and happiness that you enjoy with them. Any lack of commitment to those people around you generates consequential failures in the communication system of the relationships. Notice that I specifically state: “commitment to the PEOPLE”. It is not the relationship that you commit to, it is the person. The relationship and its state of health are merely symptomatic of the level of your commitment to another human being.

The same is evident when looking at ourselves and, as I will shortly explain, the insight into the dynamics of companies.

Failure to bond with yourself, as a person, ultimately leaves you mechanical, robotic, hardened, emotionless and internalized fears creep in as a result of your own disengagement. These fears are the consequences of the lack of internal understanding, acknowledgement and self-belief, manifesting as subtle or overt aggression and diversionary behaviours. Take the time to observe this in people around you. This is the polarity of human behavior….if one takes away the happiness, the only next available space to occupy is fear.

By extrapolation, the same exists in companies. Very often we see middle and senior management, including stakeholders, demonstrating that they are interested in managing and developing their staff. However, upon deeper analysis it becomes very evident that they are, to all good intentions, simply managing and nurturing the relationship phenomena. This is as a result of the teachings that relationship management is imperative. However, it’s the PEOPLE that require personal development and growth and from that develops the illuminated relationship as a positive consequence. Understanding your people and what they are about at a personal level is critical to your success. Let the brilliant relationship unfold from that.

This application of energy to the person, applies to both the internal customer (your staff) and the external customer (your client). Management’s dedication and commitment to these people as your most vital assets is where ultimately the dividends are seen in business.

Let me give an example that I , as a “Joe Public” consumer, see in the differences between two of South Africa’s leading retail giants.

The first company (Company A), has staff who engage with me at their checkout points, no matter the branch, no matter the time of day, with smiles and every effort to communicate with me at a personalized level. Clearly Company A’s staff have been developed and enlightened about their importance as front-liners in a manner that has led them to personal buy-in to this activity.  They are stimulating my level of importance, I know that at a rational level, but as a consequence I shop there all the time. They have got me also to a level of buy-in. A job well done by Company A!

The second company (Company B), is the contra. I am aware of the efforts that Company B has made historically with its numerous staff benefits and many etceteras. Company B has clearly worked hard at these internal relationships with their staff. However, there is no buy-in evident to me as Joe Public, which I explained exists at their competitor. Company B has checkout staff who are miserable, no matter the branch, no matter the time of day, and to be quite honest their misery manifests as apathetic and manner-less dispositions towards clientele. The people have become negative assets, and simply, negative assets = liabilities.

I gave Company B many shopping days, many banknotes, and much patience until the osmosis of their staff attitude eventually made me understand that I, as a person, was not valuable to them. Company B made me feel like they were only after the content of my wallet. As a person, I felt somewhat differently. I no longer ever step foot inside the doors of Company B. I am a customer lost to them.

Is this scenario of Company B one that your company is facing or potentially will be facing unless the people dynamic I have explained is given due consideration?

In conclusion, by improving the way that internal and external people are engaged with and grown, companies see the following results: reduced overheads and costs, improved team interaction, creative solutions forthcoming to solve problems, and vision buy-in from all levels in the organisation, including their clients. This is truly when talent is being developed, retained and provides the competitive edge.

Contact us for an insightful talk to your business about the power of people in your company.

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Telephone: +27 (0)11 792 5394

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