Key Learnings from an International week (2013, June) by Federica Zanelli ESADE EMBA 2013

The win-win approach for a customer-oriented culture

One of the main concepts we have been exploring in our trip to Austin is the win-win approach, as one of the main key for understanding the American customer-oriented culture. It is based on (i) the continuous seeking of solutions leading to satisfaction for both customers and suppliers, and (ii) on the strong desire of matching demand expectations with a services-focused approach. These pillars are immediately perceivable in all aspects of the American system, and are especially developed in Texas. As a matter of fact we had the opportunity of directly observing their impacts from different points of view: not only during lectures, but also in the daily or business life. The entire American system is actually designed in order to enhance entrepreneurship and foster personal initiative, as it rewards effort and results-achievement orientation. We could appreciate it from a 360 degrees perspective.

The Texas fiscal program is a clear example of how the State is focused on both attracting big investments and enhancing local economy, in order to successfully heading the end of a recession period that has been recently depressing US. Houston is strongly pushing on the oil industry, San Antonio logistics business is taking advantage of its favorable closeness with Mexico, Austin is turning to be the very next frontier for IT: it’s creating the proper conditions for acting as an incubator hub and for attracting start-up and innovative companies from Silicon Valley. That’s how Texas is currently leveraging on local assets for competing (winning) a wider war. The increasing of the population growth rate and the booming of infrastructure and services industries are both indicators of a strong wide effort, directly aimed at getting the State ready for the new competitive landscape.

This optimistic view for building up a positive and incentivizing loop was also perceivable during all the lectures we took: all of them were inspiring and led us thinking to principles of successfully contributing to the social system. What I actually liked the most is that optimism was not presented in a naive way: professors provided evidences (combining theory and real, updated examples) of how opportunities may really come from where one could aspect they are even less likely to happen. The key is to be able to see farer and get ready for the further step, in order to turn one’s weaknesses into winning weapons. We saw how challenges in the very next future may either come from an evolution of the geopolitical landscape (due to the emerging of new markets or business systems), or from innovation in products or services (being the IT industry the main driver that may actually leverage this). We have been given a full range of examples of how creative or innovative solutions, eventually combining these factors all together, may really make the difference. In particular we saw how challenges may be turned into opportunities through concrete management decisions (such us the optimization of time-to-market within the product life-cycle) and how to secure that those choices are kept in line with the overall corporate strategy.

Lectures were very well complemented by Company visits, as we could directly appreciate how a business opportunity may be either captured (such as the service center of Dell, taking advantages of the Company intuition over It developments) or generated from scratch (as in the unique route-to-market model of Whole Food). The visits showed us what we had previously observed during the lectures: any business idea that arises from creativity or innovation has to be followed by insightful planning and deep market validation during the intense start-up phase. Moreover, even the most disruptive idea has to be validated by strict testing and continuous feedback and fine tuning during the implementation moments. This process drives to maintaining a strong customer orientation and a direct connection with the market: it constitutes the main ground for effectively achieving results not only in a start-up phase but also in the long term. Altogether, all these elements may assure the full consistency between the organization and its strategic targets, and may also determine the highest achievements in terms of sustainability and competitiveness.

Experiences during the program, Former students, International weeks | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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