Looking Through the Window Versus Looking in the Mirror in Business
Leo Tolstoy, the Russian novelist, famously wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves”. Tolstoy’s dictum plays right into the narrative of looking through the window instead of looking at the mirror when it comes to business. Simply put, a lot of managers and entrepreneurs are constantly looking at what others within their niche are doing instead of conducting an introspection into their businesses.
Pitfalls of Looking Through the Window
Businesses that only look through the window will often encounter two common pitfalls.
The first is that the business ends up solely focusing on outcomes. Alexander Grashow, Ronald Heifetz, and Marty Linsky adequately capture this and tag it the “technical” aspects of a new solution that fails to appreciate what they term as the “adaptive work” needed to implement and achieve said outcomes.
The second most common pitfall is that the business ends up focusing too much on developing skills. While it might come off as counterintuitive to tag this as a pitfall, when the company focuses too much on developing its workforce’s skills, it does so at the expense of the goals that it has. When the training is informed by looking out of the window instead of in the mirror, the new behavior is adopted, but the bottom line might not improve.
What Does Looking in the Mirror Entail?
Looking in the mirror means looking inwards to examine your own operating modes to learn what makes your organization tick. It entails understanding the inner dynamics that drive the business. The goal is to develop profile awareness and state awareness.
Profile awareness has to do with recognizing the common tendencies and how these impact the way you do your business. When you look in the mirror, you will end up observing some rudimentary level of profile awareness. You will recognize the patterns that, in effect, might stand in the way of you achieving some of the business goals you have in place. Overall, the goal is to unearth the common internal tendencies that drive the way you conduct your business.
State awareness will help you recognize what drives some of the actions you take as a business. Looking in the mirror will have you looking into the real-time perception of the wide range of behavior that impacts your business.
Granted, state awareness can be harder to achieve as compared to profile awareness. Basically, it is relatively harder to determine what motivates some of the actions you take.
Looking in the mirror entails conducting a GAP analysis that allows the organization to identify performance deficiencies and internal weaknesses. You are able to compare your current organizational state to your desired future state. You are able to understand the gap between these two states and create a series of actions to bridge the gap. What’s more, you are able to identify if your business is performing at its potential and, if not, what needs to be done. Overall, with the GAP analysis, you should be able to pinpoint flaws within your business.
When you look inwards instead of out of the window, you have the chance to implement a VRIO framework as a tool for assessing your organization’s internal environment. You are able to critically look at the organization’s internal resources and categorize them based on the overall value that they contribute to your business.
With the VRIO analysis, you should be able to come up with a sustainable competitive advantage. You’ll recognize your unique strengths and transform these from being short-term competitive edges into sustainable performance drivers.
Core Competencies Analysis
Looking inwards instead of outwards will have you conducting a core competencies analysis that should help shape your business’s unique advantage. The basic premise of this analysis is looking at the combination of resources, knowledge, and skills to ensure that you provide unique value to your customers. Once your business identifies its core competencies, it can implement strategies that focus specifically on its strengths and the added value that it provides.
Importance of Looking in the Mirror
Closing the Performance Gap
When you take on a more introspective approach as compared to constantly looking at what your competitors are doing, you are better equipped to close the performance gap within your organization. You are able to accelerate the pace and depth of change dramatically within your business. You end up expanding your capacity to deliver true impact.
Perfect Your Competitive Advantage
When you are constantly looking outwards at what your competition is doing, you will most likely end up forgetting what gives your business a leg over the competition. Looking in the mirror, on the other hand, provides you the opportunity to perfect your competitive edge, which in turn will impact your bottom line.
Create a Strategic Plan
When you look in the mirror instead of out the window at what other businesses are up to, you are able to create an effective strategic plan. The latter will often help with improving your bottom line and ensures that your business is able to offer the value you intended.
Looking internally will have you determining the vision you have for the business, the values that will inform how you conduct your business, the focus areas your business has, and the objectives you will end up achieving. What’s more, you should be able to determine the KPIs that you’ll use to measure the success that you achieve. Overall, looking internally will help you with coming up with a solid strategy that will be the foundation of your business.
Going forward, you ought to understand that your biggest competitor is, in fact, yourself. In looking in the mirror, you are able to better understand your business, its internal processes, motivations, and shortcomings. What’s more, you get better equipped to align your business and its processes to the goals that you’ve set.
Merely pause for a second and look inwards at your own business instead of constantly looking outwards at what your competitors are up to. Make time for yourself. Realign both you and the business. Overall, you want to tune out the noise and focus on yourself and your business. We invite you to contact us for additional tips on marketing and advertising that will have to ensure you create a tenacious brand.