Two Business Realities I Underestimated in My Youth

1.  Its all about having the right people.  When I was in b-school, I honestly laughed at statements like this.  I thought it was new age bullsh*t.  I was totally enamored of quantitative analysis and business strategy.  After running a business for 10 years, I now know that people are everything.  Everything - our ability to grow, to handle difficult compliance issues, to work safely, to reduce costs - relies entirely on my finding the right people in the right spots.  Everything else is a rounding error.

2.  There is only a very limited number of things you can deploy to the field at any one time.  It took me a really long time to realize that my mind - in fact, any manager's mind - likely works way faster than the bandwidth that exists to actually deploy new things to the field.  Putting customer initiative X on hold because compliance issue Y needs to be deployed first is really frustrating, but trying to do too much means nothing gets done.

I would observe relative to #2 above that over the last few years the combination of the Feds + legislatures like in CA are generating new compliance issues faster than we can deploy solutions and train for them.   In California, we have put most all new customer initiatives on hold because we are simply overwhelmed with management and employee training relative to various local government mandates.

  • 3rdMoment

    Number 2 seems really intuitive to me even though I've never run a business. Unfortunately, it seems less obvious to other people, and that's why our political/policy system pays way too little attention to over-regulation.

    As far as number 1, though, it seems to me that lots of money has been made by making systems that work reasonably well with ordinary people. McDonald's doesn't have tens of thousands of locations because it has the best people, but because it takes halfway decent people and provides them with the right procedures, equipment, and training.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    "McDonald's doesn't have tens of thousands of locations because it has
    the best people, but because it takes halfway decent people and provides
    them with the right procedures, equipment, and training."

    You are correct to an extent. This works for McDonald's because the procedures, equipment and training are all designed from the ground up with the human element in mind. If you think McDonald's is ignoring #1 in the OP, you don't understand what they are doing as well as you think you do.

  • NL7

    In state and local tax, most nationwide companies could devote tons of resources to compliance and still miss stuff. It's triage. Accept that full compliance is impossible, frustrating as it sounds.

  • fidobite

    Eh, yeah, that's why I'm leaving CA this Saturday after living here for 32 years...the bs just got too deep!

  • rxc

    The fact that you alone cannot deal with all this compliance stuff is considered to be a feature, not a bug, to the politicians. It forces you to hire staff to deal with it, which employs people. They don't actually do anything that really contributes to the bottom line of the company, but they make the politicians and their supporters feel better. I have seen this happen in France, and it seems like the world is learning from the French (it is called rayonment Francais(sp?), I believe).

  • Dimitri Mariutto

    Spot on #1. In many businesses, mostly small to medium but also some large/enterprise, everyone uses or has access to the same equipment/technology. Therefore, the people and business processes are what differentiate a business. Ford doesn't have any special machinery that GM can't acquire or build [or vice versa], just different people.