Paul Sloane, like always in his article Ask ‘What Business are we in?” asks you to ask some basic questions for your business and his his typical style he substantiates this with well known examples of businesses who failed to understand the true nature of their businesses and had to go out of business.
While you can read what he says in the article, I would like to add ‘Ask you employees, specially the ones who are dealing with the customer, how much they understand your business’ I have randomly tried asking these questions to Bank employees and retail shop floor employees that I usually end up dealing with in day to day life. In India, I am yet to meet a single employee who understands he business they are in, and sadly enough they are not even interested in understanding it. This important layer which is your first level and most of the time the only layer that interfaces with the customers should understand your business the best and should be a like a perforated sheet allowing Osmosis between the business and its customers, while the fact is they are like opaque solid wall that keep the two entities apart.
It is as important for each employee and associate to understand what business the company is in as the leadership team, because without that shared understanding the work will be directionless and energies wasted.
So, ask your employees if they understand your business and if not, invest in making them understand.