Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reinventing Business

One of my favorite people to quote is Albert Einstein.  His uncommon genius was often expressed in very uncommon ways.  Below is one of my favorite Einstein quotes:

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex...It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction."

Although Einstein's field was theoretical physics, many of the things he said make a lot of sense in other fields of endeavor.  I believe the quote cited above is the key to business success in today's economic environment.  It is the concept often referred to as the KISS method -- Keep it Stupid Simple.

For a number of years I had the good fortune to work with the CEO of a company who didn't understand this concept.  In fact, he once stated something to the effect that in business, you need to make what you are doing complex enough that it is difficult for your competition to duplicate it.  At the time, I fought against that very philosophy and it led to my demise with that company.  I am fortunate, because it also led to the demise OF that company.

I once read a book that made a tremendous impact on my philosophy of business.  It was called, "The Death of Competition," by James F. Moore.  No, it's not about destroying your competition, it is about a management strategy of creating alliances that allows each member of the alliance to do what they do best.  It is the philosophy behind many of the joint ventures that have been most successful.

The meeting that I was so concerned about yesterday seems to have resulted in the continuation of a strategic alliance between our company and our largest supplier.  It did get a little tense at times, but all parties want to achieve similar goals and all are willing to invest the resources necessary to make that happen.  The next step is to formalize the agreement in writing although in reality, the handshake agreement is the most critical.  There is an entire profession built around the breaking of written agreements.  It always ultimately comes back to the integrity of those involved.

I am extremely fortunate to have business partners who have the highest level of integrity.  I have seen a couple of them turn down deals that would have made them a lot of money simply because they were not the right kind of deals.  One of those yesterday made the comment that the only thing any of us will take to the grave is our personal integrity....did we do what we said we'd do.

There is more to the deal than just an agreement.  It is the simplicity of the deal.  I will be shocked if the agreement exceeds a one-page letter.  That's the way a contract should be.  You don't see many that look that way anymore though.

Tomorrow's post will begin with the letter "S."  Please leave any suggestions in the comments!


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