"The problem with too many MBA programs is that they assume the sale. Sales only happen if customers are
willing to buy!" Bill Reichardt
Would a customer be willing to pay for your accomplishments?
Almost as frequently, the question is met with awkward silence, and maybe a few snickers. To lighten the mood, I ask the attendees to check first with the people sitting near them. How would they answer this question?
After a few more laughs and some sheepish looks, the attendees generally agree that "Yes" is the correct answer, but not necessarily an accurate one. If we're honest with ourselves, we often are focused on the wrong things at work. Therein is our challenge. Too often our work is mired in non-value added activity, busy work, and wasted effort. Too few of us are focused on the customer, what the customer wants/needs, and how the business happens as a result. No, we tend to focus on other things too often.
By boiling down business acumen to its essential elements, we can learn how we can help. Business is a commercial exchange of value. Money for products. Money for services. Money for something. Unless we are focusing on providing something of value, our customers won't give us their money.
So, focus on answering this question in the affirmative. Challenge your teams to focus on it. End team meetings with your version of it. In the end, your work will have more business impact. I'd pay for that!