Do You Really Know What Your Business Does?

<p>Of course you know what your business or organization does. Right? It goes without saying. After all, it&rsquo;s what you do every day. But I caution that if you&rsquo;ve worked for your current organization for more than a couple of years, you may now suffer from what Chip and Dan Health called &lsquo;the Curse of Knowledge&rsquo; in their book <em>Made to Stick</em>.&nbsp;</p>
<p>At some point it becomes hard for people&nbsp;to remember what it was like not to know certain things that&nbsp;they now take for granted about what their company does. How can you tell if you're guilty of this? Take this simple test:</p>
<ul>
<li>Do you understand every acronym that is used by your organization?</li>
<li>Have you ever let&nbsp;out an audible sigh when&nbsp;someone&nbsp;asks you what one means?</li>
<li>On the other hand, are you unable to explain your company&rsquo;s product or service to your parents, your relatives and your children in words that they understand?</li>
</ul>
<p>The fact is we so often get caught up on the tactics of what our companies or organizations do day to day that we lose sight completely of what it is they really do &ndash; that is, their impact on those outside the organization.</p>
<p>It is far too easy and common, for example, for a manufacturing company to get caught up in describing the number, weight and volume of the materials that it produces. You wouldn&rsquo;t expect a food company to describe the cubic weight of the batter for the bread it produces. But even the number of loaves that they bake each day does not really reflect what the company truly does. In fact, that company provides the food for literally thousands of people (or millions) a day. That is the ultimate &lsquo;what does the company do&rsquo; and not any of the interim milestones that, while important, do not reflect the impact on society. Even not-for-profits that have as their mission improving a social cause will often position themselves by their activities (measuring&nbsp;something,&nbsp;increasing awareness of a disease or problem, raising money to help certain populations) and not their impact on those issues.</p>
<p>I have worked with a number of organizations to encourage them as part of their messaging &ndash; both internal and external &ndash; to focus on the impact that what they do has on the lives of people in the community and around the world. The result has been crisper messaging, more empowered and enthusiastic employees, and &ndash; key for those of us who are committed to and work in the arena of sustainability &ndash; it defines where you&rsquo;ll find your stakeholders; and your greatest opportunity to do environmental, social and economic good.</p>