Business is simple. The process is clear and hasn’t changed for a long time – if ever.
But business is hard too. Or maybe we are just stupid - it seems that we have to keep learning the same lessons over and over.
Where we seem to go wrong is our focus on the outcome or the output. I like using the analogy of a cake. If you can imagine that producing a cake is the same process as producing any other outcome. By the same token, if that particular piece of cake tastes like s*#t, then you know you can’t fix it.
But if you produce an acceptable ‘outcome’ in your business (e.g. poor profits that also taste like s….) then managers obsess about the profit.
How often have you heard a CEO proclaim that they have some major issues/challenges such as low profits or small market shares?
Compare this to the Oracle of Omaha… Warren Buffett.
Mary Buffett (wife) spoke to Forbes.com about Warren Buffett's and was asked:
What's the most important lesson you've learned from Warren Buffett?
Mary Buffett answered: “Patience and discipline. And doing something you love. So many people--and Warren has said this--are doing it for the money. That's really not the right reason. If you're doing something you love, you're more likely to put your all into it, and that generally equates to making money.”
He is not the first to say it. I am not the first to say it. Neither of us are the only ones to say it. YOU may have even said. And even believed it.
But the question is: Have you acted on it?
You see, Warren Buffett identified the processes (patience/discipline/doing your love) as the key; not the output (money).
Managers are fond of claiming how ‘results-orientated’ they are. It makes me shudder. Whilst I believe you should measure the results, systematically so, the focus then needs to move on to the processes.
When we discuss mystery shopping services with clients, they often focus excessively on the ‘results’ and how the results can be used to incentivise or punish employees. And often they don’t want to put the time into designing the customer experience (the ingredients) and skilling the people to be able to deliver that experience.
Others get excited about the process, initially, but when it comes to the doing bit, they run out steam.
Measuring your customer service, you market share, or your brand awareness is of very limited value unless you go back and bake a different cake. Which is not much fun if you have to do it over and over an over.
But if you believe Warren Buffett, that is the only way. And since you are going to do it over and over and over; best to make sure you like, really like, it a lot.