Recently, I walked into a retail outlet and, while pondering upon a product, a sales assistant approached me and uttered the magic words, “can I help you?”
At first glance, the radical corporate cultures that frequently make the headlines appear progressive, perhaps even revolutionary. But don’t be fooled. Bean bags, undefined workdays and unlimited leave policies don’t drive business success – quite the opposite. They only become possible when a business experiences an extraordinary upsurge, reflecting a ‘philosophy of success’ created after success has already been achieved.
When asked by business owners or senior executives how to improve their business, I usually give the same answer: adopt Deming’s Management Method, known as Total Quality Management (TQM).
TQM helps businesses evolve towards higher quality management. The effectiveness of the approach has been well proven and, though it can be a difficult management methodology to adopt, the results it delivers far outweigh the work required.
If opportunity makes a thief, then the internet and our increasing reliance on digital media deliver unprecedented opportunities to those with the skill and desire to break into other people’s systems.
American writer Max Ehrmann wrote the prose poem Desiderata in 1927 in which he said: “Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.” In my experience, you need not look further than the media to see plenty of the trickery Mr Ehrmann refers to.
In his famous Serenity Prayer, American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Retail executives tend to track sales figures as their most important metric, but in my experience, trying to maximise sales figures alone makes little sense. As in sport, focusing on the score won’t work on its own. Only good and consistent practice, combined with a commitment to continually improve skill and technique will deliver the desired results. The scoreboard simply reflects the results achieved in the more mundane variables.