Three: The number of rules strategic leaders must know

For the last few years my message has been that growth is not only possible, but preferable, even considering the hardships we have to overcome to achieve it. Sound obvious? And yet, far too many companies are exhausted trying to fix problems caused by today’s market with traditional approaches, reluctant to change their attitudes and behaviors necessitated by the current business environment. While there is a considerable amount of market disruption that creates business challenge, it is often our own beliefs and habits that undermine our hard work. With perseverance and patience and some new rules, we can harness hardships to drive growth.

In this month’s Harvard Business Review, an article, “Three rules for making a company truly great by Raynor and Ahmed, validates key principles we have successfully used with our clients. Their sample size is a bit larger than my client base–they studied 25,000 companies—but the findings are the same. Here are the rules they came up with:

  1. Better before cheaper–compete on differentiators other than price. Avoid “me-too-ism”. For more information on that harmful disease, read “this article” 
  2. Revenue before cost–increasing revenue prioritized over reducing costs. While both are good, no company has figured out how to save their way to prosperity. Long term health and sustainability requires growth.
  3. There are no other rules. At least according to Raynor and Ahmed.

It may feel general but it is a good place to start. Consider your 2013 initiatives, resource allocations and most importantly, how your time is spent in light of these rules. One caveat: you are not better at something just because you say you are; your customers must say you are!

Do you think these rules are sufficient? Tell me what you think.

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