How are the Royal Wedding and your business alike?

I am sure some of you will be offended by this post, but there are similarities between every business and the Royal Wedding, and I am not talking about good ones.  I agree that as an American I may just not understand the “value” of such an event, but my greater interest here is how things are valued in the world and in the workplace.  These value are then “opportunity costs” that keep companies from putting valued resources into other more valued areas.

Reports I have read show the cost of the Royal Wedding   Kate in an Alexander McQueen dress by Sarah Burton, with her sister Pippa holding her train.  to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 million pounds, or somewhere greater that $130 million dollars.  That is a lot of money to have two people get married who have been living together for quite a while.  Again, I am not trying to diminish this (at least, not too much), but couldn’t they have just flow to Las Vegas 

or Dubai for the weekend and saved a considerable amount.

Enough of the rant; here is the real point: each of our businesses have “sacred cows” or pet projects that always garner an inordinate amount of cash versus their real value.  Many of these “cows” are projects or efforts that have never worked or never worked effectively and they are continued on year after year because they have the right sponsor or the leadership in place does not have the guts to cut the cord.  Think hard and this will become exceedingly clear in your mind.

Michael Porter is a strategy genius and he made the comment that the toughest part of Strategy is not deciding what you will do, but in deciding what you WILL NOT do.  This thinking manifests itself on so many levels and we all need to take a hard look at ourselves first and then at our businesses to do a fair and realistic appraisal.

Government is not immune to this type of thinking and we can cite many examples of programs     that have long outlived their usefulness.  Here are just a few examples that I have borrowed from a Heritage Foundation blog post last December:

  • They supply $175 million a year so the Department of Veterans Affairs can maintain buildings it doesn’t use, including a pink, octagonal monkey house in Dayton, Ohio.
  • They pinch pennies so a federal grant program can distribute $1 million to zoos to post bits of poetry to plaques on zoo premises.
  • They cushion the federal coffers so the Monkton, VT, Conservation Commission can build a “critter crossing” for $150,000.
  • They file honest tax returns so the Internal Revenue Service can deliver $112 million in undeserved tax refunds to prisoners who filed fraudulent returns.
  • They fork over their hard-earned dollars so Denali National Park in Alaska can afford nearly $1.5 million worth of new toilets.

Many of these are “over the top”, but there are also a number of mainstream programs that the Federal Government provides that exceed the need or the scope of their original intent.

Your business is the same.  Many things you do may have started with the right intent, but they have since grown to take over more of your time and capital than they should.

You need to take a hard look at every item you expend capital on and decide now if it is necessary of fluff.  I’ll post more about how this post relates back to strategy and discipline.

Don’t let your business become another Royal Wedding.  You cannot afford it and neither can your customers.