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The MSP Difference Maker Series:  Culture

Posted by Jeff Salanco on Mar 9, 2016 3:48:45 PM

The MSP Difference Maker Series explores how best in class managed service providers create differentiation in the market.  MSP best practices related to sales, technical support, marketing, operations and leadership are brought to life through workshops, exercises, tools and resources.


The managed services market is moving towards commoditization at warp speed.  That’s bad.

But fear not—it’s not the end of the world.  Instead, it’s an incredible opportunity to explore interesting ways that MSPs can take steps, without overwhelming expense or time commitments, to create differentiation in the way they go to market.

In our first installment of “The MSP Difference Maker Series,” we explore the often ambiguous topic of culture, which has  a very real impact on financial performance in an ultra-competitive market. 

And we are going to do it in a way that allows you do it fast and right: a five-step process.  After all, you’re an MSP—you love processes!

You and your team can do this in under an hour.   (Just a quick hint: don’t send the invite out with “Culture Meeting” as the subject—no one will attend; try something like “Why We Are Different Workshop”—that sounds like fun!). So round up the team, grab some lunch, and let’s get started.

  • The Vision: Set the stage for the group by making them a part of the story.  Share with them the opportunity to define, as a team, what the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices are that characterize the business. 
  • Current Condition: Set aside 15 minutes to brainstorm 20 values that are most important to you.  Move fast—don’t critique the values selected—just put them down and move on to the next one.  We want to make it easy for you, so here is a list of 500 values in alphabetical order to help you along.
  • What Does it All Mean?: Now that you have your 20, its’ time to search for commonality across the list.  A great way to do this is with an affinity diagram.  Simply list similar words together under a “group” using the template and assign the group a name.  Don’t take more than 15 minutes on this step! 
  • Let’s Be Honest: Working from your affinity groups, weed out the aspirational groupings that really don’t belong. This is the time to really be honest with each other. The goal is to narrow your selections to a list of four or five value group names that the team can really get excited about.  Five minutes max for this step.
  • Build It: Now that you have your list of value words, it’s time to describe each.  Depending on the group, you either can spend some time coming up with creative statements that define each word based on your unique situation or take a shortcut…just head out to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary and copy and paste the definition for each of your words off.  Boring?  Effective? YES!

What better way to take a first step towards radical differentiation than outlining clearly your organizational culture.  When you create, communicate and honor your culture, people know how and what to feel and expect from you and your team. And when you establish a heightened level of comfort with potential and existing customers, incredible relationships can happen.    

Tags: MSP Best Practices, MSP Difference Maker