Preface to Results Rule!

Why is Wal-Mart the largest retailer in the world? Why are General Electric and Procter & Gamble perennial stars in the marketplace? On a personal level, what is it about your favorite restaurant, dry cleaner, or auto dealership that makes them stand out from the crowd?

It can’t be just products, services, or price. There is competition everywhere — even for the government. And yet, there are businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations that don’t just compete with the others, they blow them away in areas like product and service quality, innovation, execution, and most important, results.

Your competitors don’t hire all geniuses while you are left with the dunces. Their computer systems, compensation, and operational processes are not dramatically different from yours. When they sit around talking strategy, the words on their flip charts are not significantly more insightful than yours. The difference is, ultimately, an intangible that you need to know about.

Over the past 30 years I’ve worked for, consulted with, researched, and presented to organizations across a wide spectrum of industries and sectors. Along the way, I’ve noticed two things:

The best leaders, organizations, and individual contributors live by a mantra that can best be described as Results Rule! The goal is not the same for every organization. For some, it is profit. For others, it is service to a constituent group or staying within a budget. Whatever the business, the best ones never lose focus on the desired result.

Results Rule! organizations create and nurture a compelling culture that becomes their sustainable advantage. Every person operates from a sense of personal ownership and stewardship. Change in pursuit of the mission is embraced. Talented people appreciate the opportunity to come on board and contribute.

This book is about how to build a culture that sets your business apart from your competitors. Think of it as the intangibles that will allow your operation to be the standard by which your competitors are measured.

Becoming a Results Rule! organization means having confidence that you will execute efficiently and effectively, engage your associates and staff, and quickly respond to shifts in the marketplace. It doesn’t matter if you aspire to be the low-cost provider or a high-end player, your competitive edge is ultimately a culture that delivers meaningful results.

At this point, you may be wondering why a book about achieving results? Isn’t this, as Tom Peters said, “a blinding flash of the obvious?”

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Consider this:

  • We live in a “me too” world where products and services are commodities. Margins are being squeezed. And in this environment, the only ways to deliver results are to improve efficiencies to compete on price or become so valuable you command a premium. You are destined for a life of mediocrity (or worse) unless you grow an organization capable of delivering results year . . . after year . . . after year. We’re talking about building a dynasty not having a single great season.

  • Many organizations have a history of confusing tools and goals. It is the tendency to practice MBBS—Management by Best Seller—rather than do the hard work of executing day in and day out. This is not a slam against organizational initiatives. The vast majority are well intentioned and useful. But too often, the zeal to implement the latest new program clouds our ability to focus on results.

  • There is a danger of confusing participation and activity with accomplishment. A friend told me about a conversation among parents about trophies to be given to each child for participating on a soccer team. When one parent questioned why such elaborate recognition was necessary for a team that finished last in the league, the response was, “Fine. You explain to your child why she is the only one who didn’t receive a trophy.”

This was no isolated event. The generation entering today’s workplace has a skill set and worldview enabling them to achieve amazing things. But, they have also been sheltered and made to feel special more than any generation in our history. Their life has been programmed, in many cases, to the point that a directive to “go outside and play” is met with a blank stare. Trophies and ribbons are awarded for everything because we want to promote self-esteem.

Organizations have a similar tendency. We reward ourselves and others for achieving performance measures with no connection to meaningful results.

Recognition is important, and there is no doubt people perform better when they feel good about themselves. But let’s not confuse participation with accomplishment.

This book will introduce you to people and organizations who deliver results in today’s world. The examples were chosen from organizations with which I have worked and research of organizations that consistently deliver results. They are designed to be representative rather than exhaustive.

You will see the familiar names of market leaders. It is virtually impossible to discuss the impact of culture and commitment to results without mentioning Southwest Airlines, Dell, Wal-Mart, and General Electric.

You will also meet individuals and organizations whose stories rarely, if ever, appear in the media. SmithBucklin is the largest association management company in the world. is a hypergrowth company, and One Smooth Stone is an event marketing firm known for innovative work with many of the best-known companies in the United States. All three have made their culture the centerpiece on which success is built.

You will meet fun companies like Amy’s Ice Cream and Mirror, and even a municipal government—the Town of Addison, Texas. There is a community bank with $800 million in assets; a second-generation family-owned manufacturing company that produces precision solid carbide rotary cutting tools; and the number-one Lexus dealership in the United States. You will even meet my friends at Cantina Laredo restaurants and discover why I’m there about 40 times per year.

Each of these organizations continues to develop its own unique culture to succeed in its own unique marketplace. And despite the differences, there are similarities. I call them the Six Choices.

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Results Rule! cultures choose to:

1. Tell themselves the truth and value candor and honesty.
2. Pursue the best over the easiest in every situation.
3. Leverage the power of partnerships both internally and externally.
4. Focus the energy to make the main things the main thing.
5. Show the courage of accountability.
6. Learn, grow, and improve every day.

Two themes consistently appear throughout this book:

1. Delivering results is more about what you do than what you know. The heroes of the marketplace minimize the gap between knowing and doing. The big difference is that Results Rule! organizations actually do this stuff in every part of their business—strategy development, operations, and people.

2. There is no 6-, 10-, or even 12-step plan for building a culture that sets you apart in the marketplace. Some of the strategies and tactics you see here can be applied immediately to your environment. Others can be adapted once the principle is embraced.

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Chapter 1 makes the case that culture is your ultimate competitive edge. You will learn the characteristics of a Results Rule! culture and discover several ways to know your culture is in trouble.

Chapter 2 is about truth and candor. The reality is there are three types of organizations—has-beens, wannabes, and heroes. Nothing ever really changes until we tell ourselves the truth, and this chapter gives you a picture of where you stand.

Chapter 3 is one of the most important—choosing and pursuing the best over the easiest. Do you pursue the best strategy for delivering meaningful results, or do you take the easy road and follow your competitor? Do you make the best operational decisions, or do you cut corners to get the product out the door? Do you select the best people or are you willing to settle for the person who is immediately available even though qualifications and fit are marginal?

Chapter 4 is about leveraging the power of partnerships. Here’s a hint: If your customers are not voluntarily selling for you, there is work to be done.

Chapter 5 deals with focusing the energy, and you will see how several organizations use their purpose, principles, goals, and processes to ensure they are delivering meaningful results.

Chapter 6 addresses accountability. It is one of the biggest problems for individuals and organizations. Once you master this one, it becomes a question of how to overcome challenges rather than will they be addressed.

Past success proves you were right once. Chapter 7 shares several ideas for maintaining a love affair with results by embracing change, learning, and growing to meet new demands.

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Make this book your own. The concepts and ideas work if you are a company of one or one hundred thousand. Write in the margins, underline, highlight, and fold the corners of pages to remember the parts to which you want to refer back.

You can read this book in a relatively short period of time. You can study it forever. The chapters can be read consecutively or randomly.

You won’t find a great deal of statistics or comparative analysis. Some might even find fault that this book shares more stories than theory or even statistics. My experience is stories, examples, and application are more likely to be read than charts. They are included if appropriate, but I acknowledge that much of this information is (from the purest perspective) anecdotal.

Albert Einstein once said: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

My goal is to share ideas you can use immediately to create a Results Rule! business in a simple, straightforward (and hopefully entertaining) style.

Are you ready?

Let’s get started.

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