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Rules are funny, we all know we should follow them but when it comes to ourselves we justify things to carry on breaking the rules. Allow me to explain. We know the rule that smoking is bad for us, yet we make excuses… ‘it’s only a few a day’ etc. There are many examples, this being a very simple one, but hopefully puts across my point.

The thing though, is deep down we know we should follow the rules, especially when following them is hard. We know they limit our whims and desires, and asides from this, they normally stem from experience, time-proven techniques and thus following them would only benefit us.

To illustrate my point, I will allude to a study done in the US which reviewed data for over 50 of some of America’s best performing companies over a 45 year timespan. In the study it was hypothesised that successful companies followed 3 rules which made them better in the long run versus companies who didn’t.

  • Better before cheaper – better quality will always surpass lower quality.
  • Revenue before cost – making £10 revenue and saving £10 are the same right? Wrong. Revenue of £10 carries more value because saving £10 potentially lowers the quality, breaking rule 1.
  • There are no other rules – although ambiguous, this rule is the most important, as it is often the most ignored.

Needless to say, the companies who followed the rules succeeded where those who ignored them ultimately paid the heavy price. I have always maintained that any organisation, of any sort, if treated like a business will flourish. But what is more interesting is, why when the choice is obvious, do companies make the ‘wrong’ choice and break the rules?

The study found the following:

Better / Revenue: Messy, Strange, Unpredictable

Cost / Cheaper: Tidy, Familiar, Reliable

What we see here is that the better/revenue model is seen and felt to be ‘challenging’ in comparison to the cheaper/cost model. In simple terms, when the going gets tough, you need to have the ‘guts’ to stay upon your path despite what the tide brings and more importantly, what the analysts/reports tell you. Remember, the successful companies which failed were ‘advised’, and in theory it all made sense. An example of a report would be something like ‘to beat competitors, we need to cut costs and to offer a lower price base for our products’.

Now what we do know is that it is easier to take the latter route, though we must remember that the better/revenue model is more successful in the long run. But it takes grit, determination and self-belief to maintain steadfast on the path which seems dicey, but iA one which will prevail. One hopes, this isn’t taken as a sign to ignore all reports – no, it means, know your product, your business and your customer. On top of this, trust your instinct.

Rules are meant to be followed. Especially when it is easier to break them.

For those starting out, I offer free basic support & advice on business and Web / Mobile related products. You can contact me on waqar@waqar.co or @waqardm on twitter. Business contact can be made through Signature Consulting.

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