In a recent restaurant start-up that was seeking advice on its menu, the restaurant founders were seeking the expertise of well-known chefs for feedback on its menu. While the majority gave honest feedback on its dishes, there was one chef whose focus was not so much on the dishes, but the amount of dishes there were on the menu itself. This chef’s advice was to offer far fewer dishes and execute those dishes precisely and be exclusively known for those spectacular dishes rather than the much larger menu.
In another case, a shoe company looking for investors had one particularly interested investor. During their pitch to him, those seeking the investment mentioned with extreme pride how many styles of shoes they had designed. The investor asked what the breakdown of sales were between shoe-designs. Without the information at hand, they agreed to revisit this the next time they met. At the next meeting, it was relayed that thirty percent of the shoe styles accounted for more than eighty percent of the business. Needless to say the investor noted that that should he partner with them the company would be changing their production and marketing strategy.
Overseeing an organization or projects can sometime get us carried away into thinking, “What is the next great idea I am going to have that will make a significant impact on the organization?” A creative mind may go into overdrive with a dozen seemingly revolutionary ideas, which to the thinker are going to bring “instant success” and a “breakthrough” for their organization. This is rarely the case. Damage to the organization in addition to excessive amounts of money could be wasted.
A few days after a recent presentation I gave, a participant and I were meeting and he mentioned to me that one of the points that I had focused on – an observation on the tendencies of people acting in a certain situation – he had seen transpire that very same evening on his way home. We have the tendency to notice specific points at times when those things are highlighted in one’s life. An example I often use: a person buys a new car and suddenly they start seeing that very same model that they bought, all over the roads. The same phenomenon happens when one is in the market for a new piece of jewelry, one starts to notice other people’s jewelry with increased attention that otherwise would not have piqued your interest.
There is a flip side to the above. When we become accustomed to certain ways that we behave, the status quo most likely will remain. We don’t realize the same Toyota on the road we have been driving for the last five years is right next to us at the traffic light.
I am a firm believer of “listening to the people.” An organization will thrive when the people you are servicing are in need of something and that something is done to cater to that very specific need. Our ideas may – to us – be the most revolutionary of ideas in the world, but to whom we are servicing, will contribute little value.
This point highlighted itself just a few days ago when I was taking my child to an extra-curricular activity and my phone buzzed notifying me of an incoming text. I reached down to the compartment holding my phone right next to my seat and my son, sitting in the back, in a painful and forceful way shouted “Daddy, keep your hands on the steering wheel.” We had been talking about the importance of paying attention to what one was doing in the past days and had he understood the importance of not losing focus on what was important – driving safely.
I was in essence trying to cater to my son. I was taking him to a program because I want him to excel in the best way possible, yet, I listened to him when he spoke up. My mission of catering to him could have put his safety at risk would I have paid attention to the incoming text and the entire purpose I set out to do would not only would have been wasted, but damaging God forbid.
Reflecting on the programs that our organizations offer, not from the perspective that we think are great, but those that are real game changers and are well-received, is where success emanates from. This in turn this will eliminate a significant amount wasted time, finances and disappointment from programs that you initially thought to be the “greatest idea in the world” for your organization.
The U.S. Navy in 1960 noted the KISS principal, an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid,” the premise being that that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. I believe the case to be with programming too. To change ever so slightly lightly from the KISS acronym – KISE: Keep it Simple and Effective.