The April 2013 issue of Harvard Business Review carried a front cover story that is particularly interesting if you own, lead or manage a business. It is particularly relevant because we always look for so many ways to improve the performance of a business and we forget what is most basic, tried and tested.
It serves as a reminder to us all that the KISS principle should be alive and well if we want our organizations to perform. Here is a short excerpt from the article just to give you a taste:
Much of the strategy and management advice that business leaders turn to is unreliable or impractical. That’s because those who would guide us underestimate the power of chance. Gurus draw pointed lessons from companies whose outstanding results may be nothing more than random fluctuations. Executives speak proudly of corporate achievements that may be only lucky coincidences. Unfortunately, almost no one provides scientifically credible answers to every business leader’s basic questions about superior performance: Which companies are worth studying? What sets them apart? How can we follow their examples?
Frustrated by the lack of rigorous research, we undertook a statistical study of thousands of companies, and eventually identified several hundred among them that have done well enough for a long enough period of time to qualify as truly exceptional. Then we discovered something startling: The many and diverse choices that made certain companies great were consistent with just three seemingly elementary rules:
Better before cheaper—in other words, compete on differentiators other than price.
Revenue before cost—that is, prioritize increasing revenue over reducing costs.
There are no other rules—so change anything you must to follow Rules 1 and 2.
At Mastermind, our approach has always been to help you lead by differentiation and finding ways to stand out from the crowd, so we fully support this common sense approach.
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