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I’ve been doing this job for a long time.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work for – and with – companies that have been unwilling to sacrifice their beliefs for profit.
To some, that might sound foolish, but it’s not like these companies were on the breadline – by all conventional definitions, they were both successful and wealthy.
Sure, there might be the odd competitor who made more money than them … had a higher profit margin than them … had a better share-price than them … but whereas those companies had to continually chase and buy their audience, these companies had attracted a mountain of geniune fans because they had cemented their reputation as doing things with quality, flair and care.
What bothers me a lot today is this attitude that profit and quality are mutually exclusive.
That you can’t have one without the other.
In my mind, so much of this has been driven by 3 factors:
1. The rise of accountants as CEO’s.
2. The reliance on share price for bonus.
3. The quarterly obsession of the stockmarket.
Despite brands like Apple and Dyson showing the commercial benefits of longer-term thinking and an unrelenting commitment to high standards … more and more companies are forgoing their longer-term potential for the sake of a few more dollars today.
Don’t get me wrong, I know how important money is.
I know how vital revenue and profit is for an organisation.
But for many companies, it’s not a case of profit or loss, it’s a case of obscene profits today over great profits for the long term.
Years ago I wrote a paper for SONY stating their obsession with hoovering up every possible dollar from their customers wallets could lead them to losing their entire fortune.
In it I basically said that the pressure they were putting on their R&D department to develop new technology [to drive continued revenue growth] was leading to them releasing sub-standard, unreliable products and if they continued down this path, their brand would start to suffer because their reputation for innovation and quality would be severely impacted.
I think SONY’s current situation says it all.
Without doubt, speed is a competitive advantage.
But so is quality.
People say you don’t remember who came second, but I’d counter by saying history is littered by people and companies who have prospered by taking a too-quickly-launched idea and making it right.
I’ve said it many times but for all the talk companies spout about the importance of ‘strategy’, it all goes out the window the moment they see a short-term, high profit opportunity.
Look, I’m all for making money.
I’m all for being filthy rich and successful.
But I genuinely believe the problem many brands, companies and countries are facing today is because they focused [and are focusing] on building down to a price rather than up to a quality and if we continue to disproportionally reward short-term thinking and results – or put people in charge whose professional education has been more about ‘what can be saved’ rather than ‘what can [also] be made’ – then the only road we’re heading towards is a dead end.
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