#LEADERSHIP - DO LESS BETTER - #COMPLEXITY
Who doesn´t want to do less better? Getting more sophisticated, efficient and closer in a complex world! Getting closer to REAL!
John Bell can give you some hints how to!
Book’s Premise: The book challenges the ‘do more and more’ paradigm that most business leaders and managers embrace. This mode of operation inevitably invites complexity and incoherence. Complexity complicates lives. It also stifles and stagnates, and if left unchecked can bring a company to its knees. I make the case that ‘doing less, better’ (focus), through smart strategic sacrifice is a better way to clear the path to clarity and resilience. “Doing less” is at odds with everything we hear and see in this busy world of ours. The demands of customers and shareholders have never been greater. C-suites and corporate boards expect more from their employees . . . and yet, in the same breath, they preach focus, but don’t practice it, themselves.
If leaders don’t support focus, neither will their followers.
Target Readership: The book offers a tool-kit of road-tested strategies for keeping companies lean, creating cultures of innovation, and creating purposeful environments where work matters.
It touches everyone from the C-suite to a clerk’s weekly to-do list and will appeal to business students, social media marketers, brand managers, human resource practitioners, management consultants and C-suites. Everyone can benefit from doing less, better.
Key Take Away:
1. Leaders and managers don’t have to keep doing more and more to be effective and successful. Doing less, but doing it better is a powerful strategy at all levels of an organization.
2. The best strategies require sacrifice. Because these strategies are concise, they also tell you what not to do. That keeps complexity at bay.
3. The specialist always beats the generalist. Doing less, better because of product, market and customer sacrifice ensures viability and strengthens competitiveness.
4. The small guy doesn’t need deep pockets to outmaneuver giants. Creativity, nimbleness, and ingenuity are the best bargains in business. They cost nothing.
5. Practice the 80/20 rule. This means that 20% of the activity delivers 80% of the impact. It applies to product lines, project lists, and marketing campaigns.
6. Life is a journey, not a destination. So is business.
Summary of Each Chapter:
Chapter 1: I begin the book establishing the breadth and depth of the complexity.
It’s absolutely pervasive – I see it at 30,000 feet where C-suites are grappling with where,
how, and with what to compete, all the way to sea level’s daily “to-do list.”
Companies that have chosen diversification as a means to grow, seem to suffer most.
One of my former clients, Campbell Soup decided to extend their tentacles beyond shelf stable products to an array of fresh, frozen, and refrigerated foods. Now they have too many
businesses to digest, too many to lead and too many to manage. Complexity rears
its ugly head from inbound logistics and operations to outbound logistics and sales and service.
In Campbell’s case, these new businesses take Campbell’s outside of their core competence. Principle number one: the less coherent the businesses, the greater the complexity.
And this problem can alienate customers, contaminate cultures, heightens stress,
and increase the cost of doing business. None of that is going to change without a strong will,
and an effective way. The way I’m suggesting is leadership’s ability to make strategic sacrifices
in the right places.
Chapter 2: The Steel and Steal of Strategic Sacrifice. Rectification starts with strategy,
whether it be big picture corporate strategy, brand strategy or cultural strategy.
In strategy, less is always better, because without clear, well-defined strategies,
companies will drift into incoherence. The steel in strategy is the capacity to enhance your competitive advantages. The other steal, the larceny, is the fact that good strategies cost
no more to develop than bad ones. Same can be said for good and bad leadership.
Chapter 3: Your Leadership Reality Check). When leadership foresight is compelling and
inclusive and easily definable, people want to be a part of it; they want to follow
their leader to that better place. “Easily definable” is the element within visions that
facilitates the ethic of simplicity and doing less, better. One thing is for sure; transformation
never happens by doing more of the same. One doesn’t have to be a CEO to make a worthy leadership contribution. Whether you are a middle manager or a C-suite executive you
must have a shared purpose . . . and hopefully an inspiring one. The best visions can
be expressed in the form of manifesto. And I share a few that I like. That said, I make
the point that visions and strategies are useless unless the implementation is superb.
Chapters 4 and 5: This segues into entrepreneurship and the urgency for action. I suggest
that it doesn’t matter whether you are entrepreneurial or not, success comes to those who
think like entrepreneurs. Until the digital age, innovation was the way of the entrepreneur.
Big business wasn’t expected to revolutionize because their power, expressed by market value
and balance sheet gave them a ticket to pass go. From that vantage point, acquiring or beating smaller players into submission made growth easy. Today, this is buggy whip mentality.
Giant corporations have a habit of gobbling up competitors and dominating markets.
In the process, many of them lose their competitive edge because those at the top struggle
with rapid change. Innovation wanes and stagnation sets in. ‘Cutting the fat’ shores up
short term earnings, but this is never the way to restore strategic health to a company.
Some of the giants embarked on reinventing themselves by simplifying decision-making
and acting with haste. But the world does not stand still. During this cultural shift,
systematic innovators the likes of Trader Joe’s, FedEx, and Whole Foods, extended
their leadership over the old-guard.
Chapter 6: This chapter is for marketers, but it will benefit every reader because I reiterate
the power of differentiation. The chapter is titled . . . KISS is not a Rock Band. K-I-S-S (keep it simple . . . and if you don’t keep it simple, you’re stupid) has been around for a long time,
but like focus, the time for it has never been more vital. If you want differentiation,
you have to ask yourself this question: What am I prepared to sacrifice to get it?
Be prepared to give up a benefit or two or three. Those who embrace KISS are the winners. Promising service is easy. Airlines, cable providers, telecom firms, and credit card companies promise customer service all the time; do they deliver it? Marketing prospers with insight.
Effective marketing is the cultural glue that binds every department and every employee
to the vision.
Chapter 7: This brings me to branding. Branding is big business. This chapter honors
those who do it well and explains why others have lost their way. I remain impressed
with the brand custodians at P&G, L’Oreal, Nike, Whole Foods, and Starbucks. Their fanatical branding convictions are a contrast to those with an obsession on the value of the brand asset. When a CEO continually yaks about brand assets, I see a misdirected leader living off the luster of yesteryear’s brand equity. These folks are known to endorse the proliferation of their brand names into unrelated categories, thus weakening the core promise of the brand. There’s a smorgasbord of reasons why great companies lose their way. The trouble often starts with the brand itself – the loss of direction, the inability to inject innovation, the failure recognize customer evolution, the lack of understanding of what the brand is and what it is not. These are the symptoms that have punished fallen stars such as BlackBerry, Hostess, Kodak, and Radio Shack.
Chapter 8: Towards the end of the book, I make it clear that there’s more to clarity and coherence than cutting back product lines, markets, and projects. Coherent companies align every function and every aspect of their organization with their capabilities. Ruthless scrutiny is required to make sure every department, every process, and every execution is in sync with the concept of consistency. Even though I use a lot of big company examples, I don’t want readers to make the mistake of thinking that big is always bad. Wal-Mart operates more than 10,000 retail units under 69 banners in 27 countries. They also employ 2.2 million people – did you know there are 90 countries on the globe with populations under 2.2 million? Walmart execs aren’t fussed by their company’s size or scope. Every country management team is clear on the two or three things that make their Wal-Mart tick.
Chapter 9: To wrap up the book, I make a couple of confessions in the final chapter, aptly entitled “Reflections and Regrets.” Without getting into the details, I’ll say that one mistake was a leadership misstep, and another, a strategic oversight. My intent in doing this was to emphasize that leaders have a glorious opportunity to enhance the lives of their followers. Their team may be tightly unified behind the cause, but every member of that team is a unique individual. In intensely competitive environments, it is easy for leaders to forget that.
Author: John Richard Bell: "People think growth comes from doing more & more. The secret? Do Less Better!"