Ari on Business

Natural Law #11: It generally takes a lot longer to make something great happen than people think

Early on in our work together Paul taught me that, in his view, “Professionalism means sticking with something long after the glamour has worn off.” Everything I’ve seen, heard, and learned since has supported that belief.

While most people seem to think that everyone else’s work or life or whatever is glamorous, few things are actually very glamorous after the third or fourth day of doing them. Front-line people think it would be great to be the CEO and be in charge of everything; CEOs think about how nice it would be to just be able to go clean the cooler for an hour and not have anyone bother them! And while there are the hole-in-ones of the business world that you can probably point to as exceptions, nearly all great organizations, take a really, really long time to build.

For instance, we’re big proponents of Open Book Finance. We use it religiously and even teach a two-day ZingTrain seminar on the subject. But I’ll tell you flat out that for the first five years or so of doing it we were probably mediocre at best in our implementation. It took another three or four years to really get good at it. Could others have done it more quickly and more effectively? I’m sure many could, and I know some have. And, believe me, I’m not recommending doing it poorly just so you can say you stuck with it. Most organizations would have given up long before they’d arrived at anything really special. Their loss—Open Book Finance is one of the best things we’ve ever implemented!

Twelve Natural Laws of Business:
There are organizational principles that consistently work and, in the big scheme of things, follow a natural order. We call these “Natural Laws of Business.” Our experience here is that the natural laws are applicable for any business regardless of size, scale, age or product offering. Exceptions exist, but I’ll say up front I wouldn’t recommend expending much energy trying to prove these rules to be wrong.