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Choices Discipline Execution Simplicity

Business is simple. That’s why we love to make it complex

Business is simple when an entire organization is aligned on purpose, strategy, values, and behaviors.

“Challenge the status quo with innovative and beautiful designed products.”

Apple

Which company do I refer to here?

Big chance you have one of their products, be it a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop, and use one of their services.

I’m not planning to have a love fest about Apple here and its products or services. Or whether you agree that their products are innovative and beautifully designed.

I’m a fan, biased, and I think it’s a good story.

But that’s not the point here.

The point is that everybody who works for Apple knows what they stand for. 

Thinking different was part of their DNA from the start and continues to be. 

Even as they grow bigger and bigger, the world is changing rapidly, and founder Steve Jobs is no longer alive, the company’s DNA remains intact.

The mission of the company remains relevant and directs all elements in its business. From strategic decision-making to hiring decisions for their stores.

Business is simple when an entire organization is aligned on purpose, strategy, values, and behaviors.

You just need the discipline to stick to the plan.

And that’s precisely where business becomes complex. Because the easy part of doing business often proves to be the hardest.

When you get hired by Apple, you’re being valued for who you are. You’re allowed to think differently, be different, and challenge the status quo.

But not for the sake of being different as such. You’re allowed to do so when you’re committed to helping the company grow and remain successful.

You’re allowed to be creative as long as you stay within the guardrails of the company.

Being different needs to be in service of the mission of the company. Being different for the sake of being different won’t fly very long.

You need to find the balance between the freedom to think and do differently and the responsibility to stick to the company’s mission.

Freedom and Responsibility are literally the two values Netflix has elevated to be mission-critical for the success of the company.

Netflix only hires people who can demonstrate they can handle both the freedom as well as the responsibility.

So why do so many companies fail?

Because they have not defined the guardrails for movement clearly.

Because they have not hired the right people who can handle the multiple realities of freedom and responsibility.

Because they don’t have the discipline to execute what is a priority, while being open to adapt pro-actively when the world changes.

Allow me to explain further with an example.

How many priorities can you, your team, and your company handle at the same moment?

One? Three? Five? Ten? Fifty? One hundred?

When I ask one hundred companies, I probably will get the whole range of answers. I’m not kidding.

The question is which of those one hundred companies are most successful. Those that handle more or fewer priorities at the same time.

If I have to believe all the people I’ve spoken to over the last twenty-five years, the answer is that fewer priorities are better.

And still, over the past week, I spoke to two different people complaining about the fact that their companies were focused on too many priorities at the same time.

Business is simple. And often too obvious. That’s why we like to make it complex.

Your turn: simple or complex?

Do more of what makes you happy!

Erikjan

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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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