Sometimes Seth Godin talks directly to ME in his daily blog posts.
Today is one of those days.
I’ve been mulling over this push-me-pull-you enigma that I’ve witnessed so many great companies seem to chase to the bottom.
Comcast, Amazon, Apple, entertainers . . . and the list goes on.
Clearly, “scaling up” a company has lots of risk:
- How does the Leadership keep the “Culture that brung us here” intact?
- What about innovation? How do we continue to WOW our customers year after year?
- As we grow, to what degree do we allow “Economies of scale” to degrade the quality of our product or service?
- What feedback mechanisms are in place to let us know when we are off our game?
- Does an increase in VOLUME of sales always fix whatever problems surface along the way?
- To what degree can we tolerate the compromising of our standards?
- Does the Peter Principle apply? Do scaling up companies “rise to the level of their incompetence?”
- Is this an irresistible premise of building a business driven by yearning for the almighty dollar?
- Do our Leaders have the discipline to pull back on the throttle when things become unstable?
- Is all of this an imminent by-product of building a company to sell?
I have many more questions than answers as I build Pareto Realty which I absolutely aspire to “scale up” to be a prominent Real Estate Sales Brand in Middle Tennessee (and other markets), and I’ve had a “light bulb moment”prompted by Seth Godin’s post copied below.
As we build businesses, we must never stop asking the tough questions along the way AND be aware of and open to any and all candid feedback we receive.
Organizations that want to increase their metrics either invest in:
Creating more value for their customers, or
Doing just enough to keep going, but for less effort and money.
During their first decade, the core group at Amazon regularly amazed customers by investing in work that created more value. When you do that, people talk, the word spreads, growth happens.
Inevitably, particularly for public companies, it becomes easier to focus on keeping what you’ve got going, but cheaper. You may have noticed, for example, that their once legendary customer service hardly seems the same, with 6 or 7 interactions required to get an accurate and useful response.
This happens to organizations regardless of size or stature. It’s a form of entropy. Unless you’re vigilant, the apparently easy path of cost reduction will distract you from the important work of value creation.
The key question to ask in the meeting is: Are we increasing value or lowering costs?
Race to the top or race to the bottom, it’s a choice.