Winning Behavior: What the Smartest, Most Successful Companies Do Differently

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Senteo Rating 3.9
01/22/24
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Author:Terry R. Bacon, David G. Pugh
01/22/24
views 24315
comments0
Author:Terry R. Bacon, David G. Pugh
DIAMOND
RATING
Senteo Rating 3.9

Winning Behavior: What the Smartest, Most Successful Companies Do Differently
Terry R. Bacon, David G. Pugh, AMACOM, 2003
Senteo’s Review information

“Winning Behavior” is a comprehensive guide penned by leadership expert Terry R. Bacon and David G. Pugh, a seasoned executive, that investigates the concept of behavioral differentiation in business. The authors argue that successful companies distinguish themselves not only through their products or services but also through their unique behavioral strategies. 

Bacon and Pugh state that products and services in mature markets converge significantly in terms of the offering, and copying best practices becomes particularly fast and easy. In these conditions, they argue that companies have three main viable ways to differentiate themselves — improve their products (which can be costly and easily copied), lower their prices (which can lead to commoditization and condemn the company to a highly competitive “market purgatory” in the lower segment), or focus on their behavior by improving the customer experience (which is unique, cannot be easily copied, and is crucial for attracting and retaining customers). The third option is the preferred one and the main subject of the book. 

The book examines various companies that have utilized behavior as a differentiation strategy, leading to competitive advantage and customer loyalty. Through numerous case studies, the authors explore key behaviors that these organizations have embedded into their DNA.  

Bacon and Pugh establish a concrete framework for behavioral differentiation, which they divide into four planes — Operational, Interpersonal, Exceptional, and Symbolic. Operational, the most crucial plane, centers on integrating customer-oriented behavior into standard operating processes and company policies. The Interpersonal plane pertains to the personal social skills of employees in their interactions with customers. This is why the authors advocate for hiring based on an employee’s personality first and training them in the necessary hard skills on the job. Exceptional refers to the extraordinary customer experiences created by employees voluntarily — something that cannot be truly enforced. Finally, the Symbolic plane involves the alignment between the company’s values and mission and its actual behavior. Ideally, all these planes should be present and monitored to establish effective behavioral differentiation that prioritizes customer satisfaction. 

To achieve behavioral differentiation, the authors suggest that businesses focus on three aspects — Leadership, Culture, and Process. Among these, Leadership is by far the most crucial, implying that leaders should play a central role in creating and reinforcing behavior and culture. Meanwhile, Culture relates to authentically establishing the company’s internal culture based on actions rather than mere declarations. Process encompasses concrete systems, policies, and procedures that play a role in customer touchpoints. 

“Winning Behavior” offers an insightful exploration of behavioral differentiation, a crucial aspect of business strategy. The authors’ extensive research and utilization of a myriad of real-world examples make the concepts accessible and relatable, significantly enhancing the book’s value. 

Bacon and Pugh hit their mark with great accuracy, correctly noting the convergence of goods and services in mature markets, which leads to commoditization. In this sense, “Winning Behavior” forms an important part of customer experience-focused discourse, taking a notable place among such vital works as  by J. Pine and J. Gilmore,  by S. Clatworthy, and others. 

Bacon and Pugh hit their mark with great accuracy, correctly noting the convergence of goods and services in mature markets, leading to commoditization. In this sense, “Winning Behavior” plays a crucial role in the discourse on customer experience, earning a notable place alongside essential works like “The Experience Economy” by J. Pine and J. Gilmore, “The Experience-Centric Organization” by S. Clatworthy, and others. 

The advice provided by the authors remains relevant today, as numerous successful companies wholeheartedly embrace the focus on customer experience.

While the authors’ proposed three-aspect model for implementation is an interesting concept, the book could have benefited from more specific, practical advice and guidance on how to implement each part of the model. As it stands, readers may be left wondering about the exact steps to execute and reinforce desired behaviors in their organizations. 

Moreover, some parts of the book focus too much on examples, leaving insufficient space for the actual methodology described and used. At times, it can be challenging to find concrete statements amid all these case studies, and the authors do not use the text structure effectively to share their most important thoughts and ideas.

Behavioral Differentiation is emerging as the “final frontier” in competitive strategy, and this book shows how leading companies use it to exceed expectations and outperform competitors. 

In an age where even the best products are quickly imitated, businesses must constantly find new ways to outpace competitors. Successful companies differentiate themselves not just with superior products, but also by how they behave toward their customers at every touchpoint: 

  • service
  • product development  
  • marketing  
  • branding  
  • bids and proposals 
  • presentations
  • negotiations 
  • and more

“Winning Behavior” offers case histories and examples from companies like GE, Volvo, EMC, Ritz-Carlton, Wal-Mart, and Harley-Davidson, plus interviews with executives like George Zimmer (Men’s Wearhouse), Colleen Barrett (Southwest Airlines), and Gerry Roche (Heidrick & Struggles). In today’s ultracompetitive business landscape, product quality and competitive pricing are prerequisites for staying afloat. This eye-opening book reveals the secrets the best companies use — and any business can use — to stay at the pinnacle of success in their industry. 

“Winning Behavior” would be a valuable read for business leaders, managers, HR professionals, and anyone interested in corporate strategy. It offers a unique perspective on differentiation and competitive advantage, encouraging readers to examine their own organizational behaviors and consider how these might be leveraged for success. 

For more insights into business strategy and organizational behavior with a focus on customer experience, readers might consider exploring  “Good to Great” (Senteo review) by J. Collins. Additionally, those interested in leadership, mission, and their impact on behavior might find value in “Start with Why” (Senteo review) by S. Sinek. 

Senteo Subject Category
Senteo

“Winning Behavior” falls within the realm of business strategy and organizational behavior. The book underscores the importance of behavioral differentiation in securing a unique position in the market and improving overall organizational performance. Primarily, it focuses on establishing its methodological base while also offering some concrete guidance on implementation.

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    Winning Behavior: What the Smartest, Most Successful Companies Do Differently
    Terry R. Bacon, David G. Pugh, AMACOM, 2003
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