Deconstructing a company’s point of view
Now, let’s look at an example of a point of view developed for a previous client of mine, G4S, the global security services company (formerly Group 4 Securicor). G4S is headquartered in Crawley in the United Kingdom and is the world’s largest security company. It has operations in more than 120 countries and employs more than 620,000 people. (It is one of the world’s largest private employers) In the UK, during the 2012 Olympic Games, it suffered reputational damage by falling short on the provision of security personnel for the Games venues. Nevertheless, G4S is still a highly successful, international security outsourcing business with few peers.
We built a strong POV for G4S long before the Games scenario, with a specific purpose in mind. At the time, the business was one of the largest in the world, but also one of the least well known. People saw G4S uniforms everywhere, and simply thought ‘security guards’. The company, however, does far more than guarding. It provides security solutions in scenarios where security and safety risks are considered as strategic threats. At the time, not enough people understood enough about why G4S was important to them. The company stated that its purpose was: ‘Securing your world.’ But what did that mean, and why was it important?
The answer is simple: because everyone’s welfare and prosperity depends on having a safe and secure environment in which to work and live. For this reason G4S has a vital role in society.
Also, people saw security and risk management as a cost, a necessary evil. They did not see it as a value – adding revenue-generating service – so they pushed it down the line and procurement of risk and safety services was disaggregated and decided at low levels in client companies. Few recognized the potential benefits that could be unlocked from a more holistic perspective and more integrated security solutions. We had to flip perceptions of security on their head to engage and educate at the top level of client companies. The strong POV also had to:
· enable enhanced relationships at all levels, but increasingly at senior levels, in customer organizations;
· help people to see G4S as a ‘critical’ partner for clients;
· achieve competitive differentiation;
· transform meetings into sales opportunities.
After a root and branch research exercise, several workshops and final approval by the leadership team, this was the G4S POV:
· Belief: Our welfare and prosperity depend on us being able to operate in a safe and secure environment. Sadly, in a world increasingly full of risk, we have to focus even more on our security challenges. When we do, however, most of us focus on the downside. At G4S, we believe that in every security challenge there is an opportunity to unlock hidden benefits that can help us to thrive and prosper.
· Behaviour: The key to releasing wider benefits for our clients is to always look at the bigger picture and consider solutions that transform performance. To do this, we deliver world-class project management that brings together our expertise in logistics, technology and managing the world’s biggest force of security personnel, and the knowledge derived from providing security solutions in diverse regulatory environments in 120 countries around the world. By doing this, we offer governments and businesses secure solutions that deliver more than the sum of their parts.
· Benefit: Clients that see the challenge of securing their world more holistically are able to protect critical assets more efficiently, generate extra revenues, reduce costs and deliver a better experience to the people they serve.
· Action: Recognize that the most secure and beneficial solutions come from understanding the whole problem and the interdependence of parts. Let us help you to see the opportunities that exist in the challenge of securing your world.
This meta-POV was then translated into market sector POVs and specific customer areas within markets. The company’s communications director, Debbie Walker, toured the company’s markets, teaching senior management everywhere how to use the POV, how to storytell with a POV as a base, and how to translate the POV into their specific circumstances. She observes:
‘It made a dramatic difference to our confidence as an organization, and our ability to communicate more effectively with our customers. When people realized it focused them on talking about the client’s issues first, it gave them more confidence to build relationships at the senior level. It gave us a point of pride and differentiation as well…
The real benefit was the ability to make a POV specific to client opportunities, or explain how we were relevant to markets. It allowed our sales teams to hold more conversations with clients about their needs, and that translated into sales. It also helped to engage better with other key stakeholder groups in a way that was meaningful to them.’