Since moving to Arizona, I've been noticing a trend, and I propose a theorem for a successful private business:
Happy Workers + (Quality Goods or Quality Services) + Benign Management = Success
Lemme 'splain. Compare this list of companies (A):
Nearly Every Veterinarian we've ever had
Bed, Bath & Beyond
Fed-Ex delivery & Store personnel
South West Airlines
Small Family Owned Mexican Restaurants
...to this 2nd list of companies (B):
United Air Lines
Linens & Things
Companies listed in A and B are the Happy vs Unhappy employees. Every employee in list A that I have spoken to, enjoys their job - some more than others certainly. I've spoken to many. It's kind of a hobby of mine, to ask people "how do you like working here?" Almost every employee in company list B I have spoken to, is an unhappy worker, driver, flight attendant, clerk, etc. Many of the companies in list B no longer exist. Others, in list B, should become extinct in the future, if my theorem is true. If they do not become extinct, then they at least will not thrive. They will struggle to maintain market share, at best.
It is NOT just adequate to have happy workers who provide quality goods or awesome services. Looking at lists of companies who used to supply quality products, but who had terrible / incompetent / evil management proves this aspect of the theorem: (list C)
Chrysler, Lear Systems,
Owens Corning (except for their leaky breast implants)
If the management is benign, and it nurtures the happy workers who are making quality goods or who are providing quality services, then the business is going to do well. Maybe it does not need to "nurture" but at least it should not oppress, berate, belittle, disrespect, or disenfranchise them. It does not need MBAs advising it, or marketers trying to lure in customers. It doesn't need consultants trying to optimize it, or unsustainable expansion for expansion's sake.
Really good products and helpful / effective / friendly services, sell themselves. Now a days, "word gets around", faster than ever before. If there's something that is desirable and worth paying for, people will find a way to get it. Word of mouth, word of text, the inter-tubes, proven performance, will speak more loudly than any contrived marketing campaign. If there's not some clueless upper level manager guiding his ship into an iceberg - or, as Neal Stephenson's drunken tramp steamer captain intentionally crashed into Norway in Cryptonomicon - the company will very likely thrive, or survive a rough economy to thrive another day.
Yes, every company will have its ups and downs. Different economies will surge and fall, sure. But if the product is crap, or if the workers are unhappily producing what used to be a good product (see list B), or if the management is negligent / incompetent / evil, it won't survive long (see list C). However, if you hit the trifecta (quality product, happy workers, benign management) it is much more difficult to fail.
If anyone disagrees, please let me know. I've been mulling this theorem over in my head for several months now, talking to more and more service providers, shop keepers, and observing their behaviour, and I think it's sound. Having worked with and for European based companies, large and medium sized US based companies, massive multi-nationals & small consulting firms, this theorem is easily applied in my experience, and proven true, repeatedly.
Comments are ALWAYS welcomed and encouraged.
1 year ago