Being Of Choice

How to become a Company of Choice, an Employer of Choice, and an Investment of Choice.

By James Kerr

Whether executive management teams recognize it, every enterprise shares the same three goals. These are to become a Company of Choice, an Employer of Choice, and an Investment of Choice within their particular industry niche.

To become “of Choice” is to possess those characteristics that serve to strategically differentiate a firm from its competition. And these three goals are universal truths. After all, why would any commercial enterprise wish to be anything less than an “of Choice” concern? We think so highly of the need that we offer a whole suite of services intended to make our clients “of Choice.”

Sure, it’s true that some management teams may not specifically state these three pillars of strategic differentiation as plainly as we have above. However, there is no denying that every strategy aimed at outwitting the competition has one of these intentions at its core.

With that said, let’s explore each one.

Company of Choice

To be the Company of Choice means that your firm is preferred over all others within its chosen markets. To be preferred implies that the company does plenty of things right. Businesses dominate by offering the right products, at the right price, using the right” distribution channels while providing the right customer service models.

Notice that the word is “right”. We are not necessarily saying the lowest price, or the best product makes a company the one “of choice”. Rather, the implication is that the company offers the preeminent combination of elements to make it the preferred choice within the industry. That’s why efforts aimed at simply becoming the least expensive provider or forging the most sophisticated product portfolio may be misguided.

A more appropriate tack may be to make the goal the provision of products and services on the customer’s terms. For example, efforts aimed at virtualization of the business, the delivery of on-demand products and service and mass customization are likely to yield the right products, price and distribution that makes you an “of choice” provider.

Employer of Choice

To be the Employer of Choice means that your firm is the preferred place to work within its geographical location(s). Here too, companies that are Employers of Choice do plenty of things “right”, providing the right work setting, with the right culture and employing the right compensation models.

Thus, the implications of being an Employer of Choice company are obvious. These companies have a clearly and cleanly articulated vision story. The vision must be so vivid that people can easily understand and see themselves being successful within it. The right setting includes well defined expectations and an intuitive operating model.

Fairness is the preeminent characteristic of the Employer of Choice enterprise. That means fairness in culture and fairness in compensation / reward systems. These firms are void of favoritism. They simply reward performance and ferret out sub-performers. These types of firms exude trust and enable staff members to exceed expectations.

So, efforts intended to provide workers a voice in how work is done can unleash a potential not seen in most businesses. Programs providing regular employee surveying, vision-based on-boarding, rapid performance rewards and culture committees can render exceptional Employer of Choice results.

Investment of Choice

An Investment of Choice company outperforms its competitors by delivering value to shareholders. Sector-leading financial performance is the key measure.

To achieve this, Investment of Choice firms uplift the performance of their asset bases through cost and productivity improvements. They integrate a stronger performance culture across the organization and streamline its management model. Indeed, they prioritize capital expenditure in businesses and initiatives that are expected to perform. They consider potential strength of each investment in the near, medium and long term, as well.

Further, capital expenditure portfolios must position the firm for growth across all time dimensions. This is done through both organic growth and targeted acquisitions across a number of physical geographies.

Simply stated, leaders must actively run their businesses looking to put assets to work in the most attractive market segments. These are the ones that scale and offer future growth options.  They must place bets on ideas that deliver significant value creation. If they can do this, they will build firms that become investments of choice.

Integrating the Views

Now that we have come to understand Company of Choice, Employer of Choice and Investment of Choice, it is important to note that being any one of these is not enough to guarantee unbridled success. The combination of all three delivers sustainable achievement over the long haul. Yes, many firms achieve one or two of these goals. Few achieve all three.

How? Any great change starts with a decision. Firms must decide to formally recognize and make these three pillars of strategic differentiation the goals. Once decided, a senior management team will then commit to establishing the necessary strategic programs across all three “Of Choice” dimensions. Success comes with an effort to do your best in executing each program.

Clearly, it takes work to deliberately plot out a comprehensive plan complete with inter-dependencies, prioritization and timelines for execution. Plan to intentionally achieve these three universal goals and move your enterprise on its way to incomparable performance.

To Close

Most firms won’t be the one that rises up above all of the rest. However, seeking to become that one is a journey worth taking. Every enterprise will benefit by doing the work that comes from the honest pursuit of the realization of these goals. In fact, the quest itself will lead to improvements in virtually all areas of a business.

Indeed, these three universal drivers combine to create strategic differentiation. Use this insight to impel important and positive changes in the way you run the business.

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