The Commoditization of Culture. Why How You Sell Defines Who You Are as a Company

Author: Luke Smaul

Transformation is all around us. In some cases, it's company driven, such as supply-chain transformation programs. In other cases, it's in response to black-swan events such as COVID. 

I co-founded Chakra because I saw the potential of this type of transformation. Especially the possibility of harnessing the demand from people who wanted to work and, more importantly, engage in new equitable ways.

Unfortunately, I've spent enough time in the corporate world to know that real transformation rarely takes hold. Worst case, a report gathers dust on the executive's shelf. Best case, a new idea is launched but gets quickly destroyed by the "change antibodies" of the organization.

The reason? Commoditization. 

"Commoditization refers to a process in which your offering becomes relatively indistinguishable from the same offerings presented by a rival."

Sound familiar?

Even if you are not selling an actual commodity, many companies feel the effect of commoditization. Commoditization means the total value of your business, including your ideas, your people, your supply chain, and your products, is boiled down to a spec sheet and a price. 

That has a direct impact on your culture. For example, corporate employees having to conform to a specific mold (take a look at LinkedIn profile photos) and then differentiate on spec (their education/years of experience). Versus being able to compete on their diversity of thought. 

The result? You cannot translate your transformation into real value for end customers. Either because it never gets off the blocks (typically a culture commoditization issue when people are not empowered to be different). Or, it just becomes another spec sheet item to secure the next deal.

The solution?  Go external! I don't mean hire an external consulting firm (although I know a good one if you're so inclined). I mean, start with your customers. That's where change has to start and finish.

Where to start:

1. Purpose: Put your transformation in a context your customers care about.

2. Value: Work to assign value to your transformation in their world.

3. Model: Introduce the idea that the best way to transfer this value fairly may require a new business model.

Getting to that discussion about potential new business models is vital. That's why I'm hopeful that sustainability frameworks, like that from the SASB, includes a pillar for Business Model & Innovation.

If we can change the conversation on how we exchange value up and down the supply chain, there is hope that this era of transformation sticks around. 

  • “change antibodies” πŸ˜‚πŸ‘Œ
    That is best current, with the times, phrase to describe how new ideas, or just thoughts, are made to vanish. I don’t want to smile about this but it is perfect!

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