Read Simply Brilliant – it will change the way you run your business forever.
Just out, the book is written by William C Taylor, former editor of the Harvard Business Review and a co-founder of Fast Company. Taylor’s key argument in the book is that the future is not shaped by people who don’t really believe in the future.
“In any industry leaders who make waves are the ones who rethink what they’ve always done, who refresh and reinterpret the products and experiences that they offer [and] who invite new voices into the conversation about the future of their organisation,” he writes.
“Don’t use your company’s age or size as an excuse for mediocrity.”
Taylor’s book is divided into four parts, each with two chapters covering subjects such as ‘Serendipity as a way of life’ and ‘Civility is not the enemy of productivity’.
This review will focus on chapter two: Why missionaries beat mercenaries (and passion beats drive). Taylor bases this chapter on an idea from John Doerr, a venture capitalist and the 135th richest person in the world.
Mercenaries have a lust for making money. Missionaries have a lust for making meaning. The former obsess about the competition and financial statements. The latter obsess about their customers and company values. There is room for both, Doerr says. But he chooses to work with the latter.
Pal’s Sudden Service, a fast food chain based in Tennessee and Virginia, is Taylor’s first example of a missionary.
It sells hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, fries and shakes. What makes the company special is that it takes 18 seconds for drivers to place an order at the drive-up window, and 12 seconds at the handout window to receive the order. That is four times faster than the next quickest.
‘If people aren’t doing something right, that’s not a problem with them, it’s a problem with their training’
Its staff make one mistake in every 3,600 orders – which is 10 times better than the next best. And the food is excellent. “We don’t look in the bag because we know it’s right,” David Jones, an instructor at Pal’s business school, explains.
New employees get 120 hours of training before they are allowed to work on their own and must be certified in each of the jobs that they do. Then every day at every restaurant two to four employees are randomly recertified in one of their jobs. Everyone teaches all the time to maintain standards.
“If people aren’t doing something right, that’s not a problem with them, it’s a problem with the training,” says CEO Thom Crosby. “We are cheerleaders for success.”
But there is more to come. David McClaskey, who co-founded the business school with Crosby, adds: “I have a lot of respect for average. In most industries it is not easy to be average. But we choose to be extraordinary. And it is a choice. The world will not demand it of you – you have to fight for it. Every day, people have to ask themselves, ‘What am I willing to do that the ordinary leader is not willing to do?’ The world will not force you to be extraordinary. You must demand it of yourself.”
The next missionary on display is Quicken Loans where founder Dan Gilbert and CEO Bill Emerson use 19 ISMs, short phrases, to inspire a winning culture.
“If you weren’t you, would you do business with you?” Gilbert asks. Or try this ISM for size: “The inches we need are everywhere around us.”
Believe in your future. This book will help you.