Read an Excerpt
Inspire!: Why Customers Come BackIntroduction
This is the second book in a series of compact volumes on the key topics of strategy, marketing, managing people, and operations. Taken together, these volumes deliver practical advice on how to succeed in today’s brave new world of business. That’s because they are rooted in the actual experiences and insights of a select group of companies that have found new and better ways to innovate and grow in spite of our challenging economic environment.
In Outsmart!, the first book of the series, I drew metaphorically from Charles Darwin’s theories of survival:
- Species always breed beyond available resources.
- Those species with favorable variations have a greater chance of survival and pass on their variations to their offspring.
- Adapted species force out weaker ones, producing whole new species.
Applying these theories to business, Darwin might say that companies tend to breed beyond their available pool of customers; that companies with innovative strategies have a better chance of survival; and that such companies force out weaker rivals, creating whole new business models.
Outsmart! describes and analyzes the strategies of successful, fast-growing organizations. Inspire! picks up where Outsmart! leaves off, showing how these kinds of organizations have been able to increase their market share.
All of the companies described in this series have passed through a rigorous filter: They’ve grown more than 15 percent a year for the past three or more years. My initial assumption was that businesses expanding at these rates must be doing something right—and worth knowing about. My research has confirmed that assumption, as the examples in this book will illustrate.
I did not begin this project expecting to find a single driver of extraordinary growth, a single source for great strategies, or a single formula for retaining customers—nor did I find such. But all the companies in Outsmart! and Inspire! do share a set of special traits. I consistently found these similarities:
- Company-wide ambition for steady growth and stellar performance.
- Intuition valued above tradition.
- Focus on markets the company can serve best.
- Decisions driven by customer needs.
- Risk calmly accepted as necessity.
- Innovation viewed as everyone’s business.
- Behavior governed by culture, not imposed by rigid rules.
- Work is taken seriously but is nearly always fun.
The companies in Inspire! share one additional trait: a fidelity to long expressed beliefs. These companies remain true to themselves. They consistently uphold their own values in their products, services, and actions. They are what they say they are—that is, they are authentic. You will find more about authenticity and its particular importance today in Chapter 1.
You will also experience the quality of authenticity in each company described in this book. And you will see that these companies have a purpose that goes beyond merely selling their product or service. Simply put, they have a higher calling. I hope they will inspire you, just as they have inspired their customers.
Praise for Inspire!
“With Jim Champy’s well-proven gift for keen management analysis, today’s essential notions of business transparency, channel and customer alignment, and enduring cultural values become palpable, memorable, and—most important—usable.”
— Alan Spoon, Managing General Partner, Polaris Venture Partners
“If you love the game of business, you’d be hard pressed to find a book with more ‘good moves’ per page than INSPIRE!”
— Paal Gisholt, President and CEO, SmartPak
“Full of insightful ideas, this book is for those who like winning, who embrace innovation, and who wish to transform how they lead. It is not for the defenders of the status quo.”
— Michael Dowling, President and CEO, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System
“INSPIRE! provides ‘food for thought’ and insightful guidance for all companies. This is particularly important in today’s economy where even established companies are looking for ways to maintain the growth they have enjoyed in better times.”
— Chiquita White, Section Head, Product Development, Procter & Gamble
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