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Action Trumps Everything

Once again, Willow Creek Association put on a tremendous Global Leadership Summit last week. As soon as Len Schlesinger started his presentation, I knew I was in for a whirlwind of new ideas and different ways of thinking. As President of Babson College (ranked #1 business school for entrepreneurship by U.S. News & World Report); former Harvard Professor; and noted author, he is an entrepreneurial genius.

In the 1990’s, he and his co-authors helped us better understand how to build profitability in a service business via The Service Profit Chain (1997). Per Harvard Business Review, the service-profit chain established relationships between profitability, customer loyalty, and employee satisfaction, loyalty, and productivity.

More recently, Len Schlesinger has been focused on using entrepreneurship in all kinds of settings to create economic and social value. His book Action Trumps Everything (2010) makes the case that conventional approaches to problem-solving don’t work as well in an uncertain world.

Instead, a very simple framework used by successful entrepreneurs can be more effective: Act. Learn. Repeat.

1)      Act: Take a small step forward.

2)      Learn: Pause to see what you have learned by doing so.

3)      Repeat: Incorporate that learning into what you do next.

At Walker, we know that taking action can be one of the biggest challenges faced by customer strategists. I suspect that is due in part to our tendency to set aggressive, stretch goals that may at times seem unachievable. This can lead to inaction. But, what if we didn’t try to solve world hunger from the onset?

What if we make a decision to just do something that might have a small impact?

1)      Act: Take a small step.

2)      Learn: After taking that first step, see what customers think and say about it in your customer feedback program.

3)      Repeat: Then, incorporate that learning into your action plan and take another step forward.

Do we make the idea of taking action more difficult than it needs to be?

Kitty Radcliff
Vice President, Consulting Services

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