Would You Sell It to Your Kids?

Posted 05.07.2015

cutekids1Decision making can get pretty complex sometimes. That’s especially true in businesses or other organizations where the often competing interests of different stakeholders have to be balanced.

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear how the CEO of a large and well known company thinks through decisions by sitting in on a business briefing he did for his extended leadership team. He’s definitely a long term thinker as a well as a continuous learner. From a strategic standpoint, he follows the advice of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and “skates to where the puck is going to be.” Along the way he invests months of time in educating himself on the latest technology and other trends in the global economy. He leverages what he’s learning to think through the offensive and defensive implications of those trends for his company. All of that can get pretty complex.

Here’s the question he asks himself to make things simple: “Would I sell this product or service to my kids?” If he wouldn’t encourage his kids to buy it or use it, he doesn’t want his company to sell it. He’s backing up his answer to the question by making changes that benefit his company’s customers that, on the face of it, will hurt the bottom line. What he’s finding in practice, though, is that doing what’s right for the customer is also good for the bottom line. Whatever financial hit the company takes up front is paid back in reduced expenses and increased customer loyalty.

The benefits aren’t just financial. When the people in his company hear from customers how much they notice what the company is doing for them and the difference it makes in their lives, they feel connected to something much bigger than just a job. They’re both encouraged and inspired to work there.

Finally, investors are clearly happy with the company as their share price is stronger than ever.

So, yeah, business can be really complicated and it is almost always really demanding. As a leader, you can make it a lot simpler by asking yourself and your team members some simple questions that reconnect you with the human side of business. “Would I sell this to my kids?” is a great place to start.