“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”
― Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t
Great companies are like forces of nature, they revolutionize products, shake-up industries and sometimes they even change the world. Apple, Blackberry, Coca-Cola, Facebook, Google and Microsoft (among many others) have had moments of greatness. These companies have unleashed innovative products on the world and have dominated their industries in major markets. What can be learned from their respective successes to make your company great?
“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”
- Dale Carnegie
In order to innovate and encourage employees to take initiative, failure needs to be rewarded. Several entrepreneurs at 500 Startups have embraced the notion of “failing fast and failing early” as seen in the video below:
If the worst case scenario means losing some time, money or experiencing short-term inconvenience, then the risk is worth taking. However, if the worst-case scenario is the serious tarnishing of your reputation, or loss of clients, or something otherwise detrimental to business continuity, then don’t accept that risk. Determining whether you can tolerate the worst case scenario is an efficient way to size up risk in situations where time and information are on short supply.
“If you haven’t failed, you’re not trying hard enough.”
― Jennifer Crusie, Trust Me on This
Seize Opportunities Decisively
Opportunities are potential positive outcomes of decisions/situations and risks are potential negative outcomes. There are three types of risks: physical, emotional and financial. People who seize opportunities decisively know how-to calculate risks and take them effectively. Taking risks effectively doesn’t happen by accident, it requires planning and preparation. Here are some tips on taking calculated risks:
- Start with an objective
- Identify the options for achieving the objective
- Do your homework and analyze the pros & cons of each option
- Select an option based on the analysis and the objective
- Assess challenges, such as possible negative outcomes, and develop mitigation strategies
- Execute the mitigation strategies if and when the challenge arises
“All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively.”
Never, Ever Settle
“To keep our ancestors alive, Mother Nature evolved a brain that routinely tricked them into making three mistakes: overestimating threats, underestimating opportunities, and underestimating resources (for dealing with threats and fulfilling opportunities).”
- Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist
In order to claw our way out of the depths of mediocrity, we must short-circuit our wiring and learn to recognize opportunities when they present themselves. We must shake off complacency and the comforts of perceived security & stability because they are the biggest traps on the road to mediocrity. The secret to achieving your full potential is to embrace high short-term risk because it leads to low long-term risk. Microsoft proved it years ago when they launched Windows and Apple reminded us when they released their iPad in 2010. In both cases, breakthrough products enjoyed tremendous growth and market dominance. Why? Because their founders refused to accept the status quo.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.
- Michael Jordan
Time to Aim High
“Your father and I were going to change the lives of billions, including mine…”
- Dr. Curt Connors, The Amazing Spider-Man
Now it’s your turn. What change will you make in your business in the next 90 days? Will it be great?