It is paramount that all members of the organization understand what the company stands for. And even more important, it is for your employees that they understand what the company it is not, especially in times of crisis.
Strategies, strategic plans and metrics must be clear to drive the organization forward to meet its purpose. In difficult times however, when you need to ensure that all human resources invest their time on the critical few and avoid waste, you need to ensure that activities with minimal or no contribution to the purpose, which may be bringing the company back to solvency, are aggressively eliminated. Hence, it is equally, if not more important, that all members of the organization know what the company it is not.
Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema explain in their book “The Discipline of Market Leaders” that no organization can succeed by trying to be all things to all people. That it should focus instead on a specific value between Customer Intimacy, Product Leadership and Operational Excellence. Market leaders concentrate on delivering a unique value to a specific chosen market better than anyone else. Yet, company revenue targets and other pressures force executives to look for possibilities with other customers or strategies which often deviate from a specific discipline. This effect, that inadvertently happens in most companies, can be addressed, (or at least helped), by clearly defining what the company is not. This clarification, I believe, allows company members to better evaluate their efforts by clear discrimination, with the objective of maintaining its course. If executives see value on departing their original discipline then the company should concentrate on re-evaluating the strategy as a whole so the change is not the result of an effort of desperation thus allowing the adaptation of their value proposition, their value-driven model and their value discipline.