Recapturing the “why” of Cayman

Related Articles:The inner “why” of leadership

Reinvent or Die

When I begin with new clients I always
start with questions to find out if they know their “why”. I recently asked a
global aviation services company: “What does your company do?” Answer? “We
provide aviation services”. I then asked: “What distinguishes you from your
competition?” Answer? “We provide excellent service”. Do you think they are
clear on their “why”?

Now, compare this to a client in Grand
Cayman who operates tours for cruise and stayover visitors. Their answer? “We
give customers the experience of a lifetime”. That tour operator certainly
knows “why” they are here, and that drives their “what” and “how” in powerful
ways. To give an example of “how”, staff who focussed on providing the
experience of a lifetime are far more likely to go the extra mile to create
those experiences. On the “what” level, the company doesn’t just “offer tours”;
they continually look at what “the experience of a lifetime” means with
changing customer needs and so change the shape of their business to fit.  

Both companies operate in markets with
fierce price competition. The tour operator, though, does not offer low prices,
but still has customers come back to them again and again, as well as
benefitting from many referrals. They inspire that loyalty because they know
their “why”. They also change to meet customer needs so they can thrive over
time by staying true to their “why”.

For Cayman as a country, we once had the
confidence to go out and establish the foundations of our economic future
through the financial services industry. Our leaders knew their “Why” and
elected leaders, public servants and private business all pulled together to
drive Cayman forwards. Laws were continually introduced or changed to allow new
services that were ahead of the competition and these were then delivered with
world class practitioners and infrastructure. I could articulate that “why” as:
“global leadership and competitiveness through innovation and service

In the last three years of global
recession, Cayman has focussed on fixing our “how”, by looking at costs,
bureaucracy, revenues, taxes etc. Our cost base is certainly too high and we
must address this. Like the tour operator though, when we knew our “why” we
inspired loyalty without being the lowest cost option. At least as important,
the world came to us when they needed new products, knowing Cayman’s reputation
for innovation and leadership. Our “why” then kept us current and competitive
as the world changed.

However, as time passed we have lost
clarity and focus on our “why”, and as a result have paid too little attention
to the “what” that flows from the “why”. The global economy continue to be
fundamentally reshaped, but is “what” Cayman offers still positioned to take
advantage of opportunities from new industries, new ways of working, new

Not too long ago we boasted world class
telecommunications infrastructure, but have now fallen far behind in both
mobile and internet. Why not look to facilitate that area and then capitalise
on opportunities in areas such as the many digitally based industries that have
exploded worldwide? 

To take only one more area, the emergence
of Dr Shetty on the Cayman scene is an example of the booming medical care and
wellness industries, fuelled by global demographic trends. However, what has
Cayman done to proactively position our country to meet those needs? 

These are but two potential areas, but the
summary is that we need to be proactive, not reactive if we are to survive and
thrive, and for that we need to recapture our “why”.