Your whys, are our Why
I am grateful to all the ALE customers throughout the world who together have made our job one that is incredibly worth doing. “Why?”, you might ask. To which I reply, “Why, yes!”
At a recent company Sales event, I was reminded by an executive about the importance of being in touch with our “why” for doing what we do. This exhortation was well timed and meaningful since in our business, it is at times easy to lose sight of it. What do we do? We manufacture hardware and software solutions, specifically in the networking and communications space. Bits and bytes, speeds and feeds, this operational feature and that network standard or regulatory compliance, while all possessing intrinsic value as the sum enables our clients to meaningfully use our equipment to enhance their businesses, are not necessarily the stuff that lofty philosophical ambitions or ethical aspirations are made of. Or is it? Let’s just say that it can be, if it is tethered to a deeper why—or, should I say, whys.
Why #1—it’s personal. I asked some very successful and respected Sales and Support people in our organization why they do what they do. Before we go down the road of visiting some of their inspiring personal reasons for getting up in the morning and for fighting the good fight, nearly every person said that money was a motivating factor. Isn’t that true for just about everyone in every profession? They do what they do because they are compensated for it, and their relative performance is in some way proportionally tied to their success in their job functions. This is not at all surprising. As Maslow pointed out many decades ago, our fundamental, baseline needs for physiological comfort and safety, and to some degree social belonging, all rely on money. As such, it is a given that most people do what they do at least in part because they get paid to do it, and that pay enables them to secure food, shelter, overall safety, and a place in a community, and for most this means not only satisfying their own needs, but also those of their loved ones who depend on them.
I found I needed to be more specific in my query, by probing into why the people I interviewed did the specific job they do rather than doing something else. This is where it got interesting. In one case, a Salesperson said, “Frequently, the last thing on my mind as I drift off the sleep and one of the first things that comes to mind in the morning is that I impact the lives of millions of people with what I do.” What does he do? He is the ALE Sales Account Director for not only the largest public institution of Higher Education in the country, but also for one of its largest school districts. In his role, he has supplied network solutions that have substantively impacted several million students over the last decade. Another person referenced the fact that she saves lives. Not that she herself is a doctor or healthcare worker, but she supplies network and communications solutions to one of the largest healthcare entities in the U.S. Those networks form the informational heart of a complex care system, the stakes of which are life and death on a day-by-day, minute-by-minute basis. Untold numbers of lives have been saved and enhanced thanks to her role and knowledge of how technology can influence patient care success. That’s one of the biggest and most compelling “whys” that I have encountered.
Why #2—it’s corporate. Not only do people have whys that motivate their day to day activities, but companies do as well. And, just like people, a fundamental why behind ALE, as an example, is to make money. This is an undeniable underlying reason and purpose behind nearly every business entity, and ours is no exception. Digging deeper, there is more to the story, however. While I cannot claim that I represent the company’s official position as to its big “why”, I can render my own opinion as to what it is.
Three threads have always run through the company’s philosophy and approach as I have known ALE. First, unrivalled technical excellence with a carrier class reliability tailored to the enterprise. The company has always sought to provide its customers with networking and communications solutions that demonstrate leadership in functionality and performance, backed by outstanding Reliability! Ok, so it sounds like I’m getting back to the bits and bytes, features and functions, which is very sterile and certainly cannot constitute a big “why.” That’s correct. It must be coupled with the other parts of the equation: Uncompromising and responsive service to our clients. For as long as I have known this company, and in my case, it has been 23 years, it has always sought to provide a Customer Experience that is both highly personal and that goes the extra mile. It has done so by excelling at uncompromising Customer-centricity. The company has also always sought to be a leader in responsively delivering tailored solutions for its clients. The only way we could accomplish this is by relentlessly pursuing a path characterized by Speed and Agility. While all of this is undertaken with an eye towards making money, as any business should and must do, this is only true in the context of providing compelling reliability, achieved through determined customer-centricity and speed and agility.
So, when are we getting to the why? Certainly—here it is. The company’s approach has always been that the network is essential to the client’s business. So much so that its business could not function normally or competitively without the network. But it is not the heart of a client’s business. What is that heart? It is that specific client company’s own why for doing business. By coupling a second-to-none quality solution for our clients with personalized service experience and an unsurpassed responsiveness to client needs, ALE enables each customer to better realize its own individual why behind pursuing its business. In this way, we enable the student to learn more in less time, impacting a lifetime of abundance and growth. We allow the physician to have access to more granular and timely information with life-enhancing and often life-saving benefits. We help ensure safety on our roads, in our cities, and in the defense of our country. Our Reliability/Customer-centricity/Speed and Agility solution extends the reach of their why as each client focuses on its core business raison d’etre, fortified by the savings it has achieved without compromising on satisfying its networking needs.
In short, I believe that ALE’s why is to facilitate the realization of the whys of our clients by offering them the very best networking solutions and services at a great price. It’s that simple. Our why is the sum of their whys, and for me and the ALE family as a whole, it is truly a great thing to be a part of!
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