Wednesday, 23 December 2009


I once was in Athens, and asked a taxi driver why he thought that the Parthenon had stood for more than two thousand years. An amateur architect, he said because of two things: balance and simplicity. 
That got me to thinking. What makes a successful design, or indeed any successful venture?

The answer is in the simplicity of the design, the clarity of purpose, the attention to detail, and most importantly, balance.

A strong venture is a like a strong building and should be approached as such.

What are the characteristics of strong performance?

A strong foundation based on a strong PRINCIPLE, a clear PURPOSE, and an unselfish PRIDE in work and achievement.

A balanced approach to the seven pillars which support the structure of any enterprise:

  • The People who are the central support to a company--including employees, customers, suppliers,  family, and friends.
  • A commitment to the continuous development  of Products which will stand the test of the harshest critics and inspire loyalty from their biggest fans and which form the cornerstone of any company
  • An attention to the components which make up Profit-- the generation of sales, the control of costs, the strength of capital structure and financing
  • Investment in Plant -- the working environment, the technology, and the infrastructure which enable employees to extract the maximum productivity and pleasure from the work that they do.
  • Process which is continually refined to simplify development, production and delivery of products and takes into account both the internal and external needs and desires of the company, its employees, its customers,  and the environment
  • Systematic Planning for the future which is structured but dynamic, which tries to anticipate but can respond to a sudden change in market realities
  • A clear-headed and consistent approach to Problems which inevitably crop up--whether or not they stem from internal failings or external forces--and which demonstrate an honest and decisive path towards their resolution

Is this a recipe for success? Well maybe not, because luck and timing also play their part. But if these elements are not considered in their turn as part of a whole venture, the venture is doomed to failure. Forget one key element- a lack of capital, treating your employees or customers badly, not planning, ignoring problems, not investing in plant, abandoning long term principles in favour of short term gain,not taking pride in your work or indeed not recognising the pride that others take in theirs, forgetting the purpose of the whole enterprise...and the whole thing goes down the tubes.

A very bright accountant once said to me: Ce qui se concoit bien, s'annonce clairement. That which is well conceived can be clearly explained.

Construct things with the same aforethought as the people who built the Parthenon, and you have a chance, a small chance, of success. Forget balance and simplicity, and the importance that the foundation and each pillar plays in supporting the infrastructure of performance, and the structure will crumble eventually.

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