How Unique Are You in Business?

September 20th, 2009 by admin

Business is competitive, and no one can win a race by following the leader.  You win by figuring out the most effective way to apply the principles for success to the unique situation in which you operate. Sometimes there is one good move for everyone in the same industry but you can’t all do the same thing in every aspect of the business all the time and have any hope of getting ahead. Where do you stand out in business?
Can you run a business like this?

There is no organization chart
There are no job titles or job descriptions
No bonuses and no perks
No regularly scheduled meetings
No approval levels for capital or expense spending
No goals
No offices or high-walled cubicles
If the peers accept the idea, then “management” is presumed to accept it – hence the need for very little management
If you know what is needed in business and hire the best professionals, can you have a successful business without all of the normal confining constraints found in the typical business world?

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What McDonald’s Can Teach Us About Financial Recovery

July 28th, 2009 by admin

I believe there are four important lessons that can be learned from the remarkable turnaround at McDonald’s.

1. How you grow matters as much as that you grow. The financial services industry would have benefitted from a focus on “growth by quality, not by quantity.” Clearly, the “growth at any cost” credo of some led to exactly that: any cost.

2. Changing your business model may not be needed, but belief in it is. Start by asking yourself what business you are in and whether customers still have a need for it. If they do, commit to it — fully. At McDonald’s, we knew that people still “deserved a break today” and we were willing to let go of all other initiatives (many of them very exciting) in order to demonstrate unwavering commitment to the core business.

3. None of us is as good as all of us. It’s the system, stupid! Understanding that you are leading a system, not a company or a person, is a critical insight if you want to successfully change something large. McDonald’s is extremely good at this. To some people (me included), it is a frustrating process. It takes time. It requires buy-in and plenty of patience and tolerance from everyone. It also requires adequate policing, oversight and incredibly detailed measurement systems. This is tedious work, and intimidating to those being measured. But it’s needed.

Large systems work best with a hard-wired operating system in the hub that enables innovation, entrepreneurship and decision-making in the nodes. The Internet would not have happened without HTML. Our country would not have prospered without the U.S. Constitution. But it is worth all the pain. And it must start with the humility that you are in the service of something larger than your own institution. As we say at BE-CAUSE — the company I founded — a purpose bigger than your product.

4. Plan your work, and work your plan. At McDonald’s we created a “plan to win.” Some would argue that it wasn’t perfect. Perhaps it wasn’t, but we decided that it was. And we haven’t looked back. Even through tragic circumstances — losing two CEOs in less than one year due to tragic deaths — the plan stayed intact and is still central today to the focus and alignment of the organization.

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