Is Your Business the Next McDonald’s?

A few years back, I read Michael E. Gerber’s book, The E-Myth Revisited . Perhaps you have already devoured and incorporated the concepts he’s articulated. If not, let me share and reflect on a few of the ideas he postulates. One of the admonitions he makes is to “work on your business not in it” and that line of his has been quoted far and wide.

Gerber suggests putting a model he calls the Franchise Prototype to work for you. (This is the model that allowed McDonald’s to grow into the giant it is today.) Gerber says ‘Imagine that your business is the prototype for 5,000 more just like it, exactly like it.” How would you set it up so that it could be replicated almost effortlessly?

He offers 6 rules to follow to win the game, but I was most fascinated by one of them: The model will be operated by people with the lowest possible level of skill. It seems almost heretical to say something like that in this information age we’re in.

Now, he doesn’t mean that we should hire unskilled people. If attorneys, doctors or accountants are needed for a particular job by all means, hire them. Typically, however, organizations recruit people with the highest level of skill. You know, hire the best…the brightest. You might pride yourself on that. But is that really necessary? Or is it compensation because we aren’t organized to deliver optimal results?

Suppose your business was set up so meticulously, so systematically, that good people could be leveraged to produce extraordinary results. How can you deliver value to your customers with brilliant systems rather than people?

I recognize that things are moving a warp-speed these days, and yet, there is opportunity in what Gerber has to say.
It’s an intriguing concept, especially in this economy where most of us are trying to figure out how to do more with less.

I don’t know about you, but the last couple of dotcom companies I worked in were moving so fast that they rarely wrote anything down. They rarely stopped between projects to debrief and identify learnings. They rarely established mechanisms to share success stories and information across geographies or departments. They didn’t maximize their learning opportunities to leverage the mistakes and wins of the day for increased potential gain in the future.

How good is your business at:

  • Documenting processes and enhancements?
  • Sharing great ideas throughout your team (even/especially if it’s a virtual one)?
  • Communicating your vision and goals to everyone on the team (including key vendors)?
  • Engaging the hearts of your team members and employees by harvesting their ideas for improvements?

Suppose you invested the time and energy to make an upgrade of just 5% in any of those areas? What might be possible?  How would that position your firm to capitalize on the rebounding economy?

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