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Being of Service

During the past few weeks, I’m getting an average of 4 surveys a week. That is a lot of surveys.

One, in particular, caught my attention like none other. I won’t name the source other than to say it was regarding a recognized organization. The theme of the survey was ‘Being of Service’ and ‘Receiving Value’. OK — I can respond to that.

As I was making my way through the questions, I noticed that the questions were starting to focus on ‘Values’ and not on the ‘Value’ as the survey suggests.

I thought that was a bit odd — there was no indication of the change of direction in the survey from value to values. The statements no longer fit the context.  Expert survey designers don’t let these types of errors get past them; therefore, it is safe to assume, they meant ‘values’.

One sample statement:

On a scale of 1 to 10, rate (the subject organization) on how consistently they deliver values to you as a client.

I just didn’t know how to respond to that.

No flies on me!


I checked out the website of the said subject organization to see what they publish as their values, if indeed they do. The five values identified on the website are Integrity, Collaboration, Leadership, Innovation and Diversity and Inclusion.

This little situation got me to thinking . . .

~ How often in business do we insert words or make associations between two different words and assume everyone will understand the shift in context?

One example I see often is the use of ‘efficient’ and ‘effective’ — these two words have completely different meanings, yet they are commonly used interchangeably. We’ve now identified 4 words that are misused or used for different purposes.

Let’s consider this when we talk about “Being of Service”. It is not only people who aim to Be of Service. We use different tools, tech and equipment to provide service, which is often paid for — even in self-service.

How often do we use tools, people, systems and the many resources available, in entirely the wrong way?

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Right intent, wrong application.

What results is that the value of the service is less than what is possible and often less than expected.

From an old translation of ‘Lessons of the Chinese Masters,’ the following phrases illustrate how completely ineffective efforts can be with the inappropriate use of the ‘tools’. But, used correctly, they are equal to the task and provide value; at times, more than expected.


“Horses cannot be used to bear heavy loads; oxen cannot be used to chase the swift.

Lead cannot be used to make swords; bronze cannot be used to make crossbows.

Iron cannot be used to make boats; wood cannot be used to make pots.

Employ them appropriately, use them where they fit, and all things and all beings are equal as one.”

Business systems, tools and values will change. For an organization to remain relevant, it is time to tinker with how they use their most valuable tools and resources.

The term ‘alignment’ is often misused. The concept of alignment has changed dramatically since its early days in the 90s. Today, alignment is the ultimate measure of how effective the company is in ‘Being of Service’ to the final user of products and/or services — the Consumer.

This principle applies to every sector. EVERY SECTOR. Every known sector serves some type of customer.

A culture that is defined by their desire to be effective and to ‘Be of Service’ is one that is acutely aware of how their competition is meeting consumer needs and wants. That type of culture does not simply pay ‘Lip Service’ to serve customers. For strategy, they have an external focus, not solely internal.

Think of the quality of service at your fiercest competitor.

I venture to speculate that ‘Service’ (capital S) is part of their values.

If ‘Service’ is not part of their values, why do give them your money? It is an exchange of value — Money for Service — Without the exchange of value there is no business.

Your thoughts and/or comments are welcome.

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