Great by Choice

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Tip Sheet – Book Review – Clarity Company

Great by Choice, Collin & Hansen

Luck is not a strategy

Business success — is it down to luck or talent, genius or hard work? Or perhaps creativity or diligence?

Authors Collins & Hansen assert that it really comes down to level-headedness and control as you face inevitable change. If you put your head down, you can thrive.

10X Companies

Starting their book with a definition of ’10X’ companies, they describe companies that outperform their peers by at least a factor of 10. Typical behaviours for such companies are: ‘fanatic discipline’ and obsessive focus on achieving their goals; focus on facts rather than opinion, and a readiness to ignore orthodoxy once armed with these facts; and ‘productive paranoia’, constant vigilance which drives relentless preparation and precautions against even the most unlikely bad events.

They draw on anecdotal examples from both the business world and beyond to illustrate their points, such as the race of South Pole explorers Amundsen and Scott. Scott took a relaxed, cavalier approach to his expedition, and Amundsen prepared meticulously, even eating dolphin meat to see if it could provide a reasonable nourishment. Amundsen loaded up with more supplies than Scott, even though the team was smaller. Amundsen reached the pole more than a month before Scott and — made it back alive.

20 Mile Marches

10X companies set off on what ’20 mile marches’, a long period of continuous growth, hitting specific, relevant performance targets and demonstrating both determination and control. By behaving consistently over time and proving resistant to a changing marketplace, an organisation can foster and develop self-control. This, far more than innovation or creativity, is what determines 10X success.

Zoning In With Bullets, Then One Cannonball

On innovation, the authors liken the process to firing bullets to zone in on your target, then heaving a cannonball at it to do the job properly. Disasters happen when successive massive, uncalibrated cannonballs are fired; each big, reckless bets made in the hope of recovering from the last one.

A Key Point About Innovation

A key take-away from this book is that innovation is not always the most reliable path to success. The authors’ investigations have revealed that it was the less innovative firm, Amgen, that generated better returns for investors over 20 years. Sometimes, it serves companies to be ‘one fad behind’.

10X companies are the ones that prepare rigorously for what they cannot predict, not necessarily the brash risk-takers. These hyper-realist companies acccumulate cash and maintain comfortable buffers in every area of their business, just in case.

Further inspiration?

At Clarity, we help businesses apply practical, sustainable improvements in strategy, business processes and strategic marketing.

If you’d like to know how we do this, and how we may be able to help you, let’s arrange a meeting without obligation.

  • Get an impartial view on your business matters.
  • Realise untapped potential, using Clarity as catalysts.
  • Professionalise the process: prevent it becoming a series of expanded staff meetings.
  • Decrease the learning curve, using Clarity’s dedicated strategic planning process.
  • Resolve conflict, bring out the best in your team, think outside the box.
  • Ensure cost efficiency: move the project along in a timely, effective manner.

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