VMW Blog: One Question Can Produce A Million Answers

Oct. 27, 2016

Something I find very interesting in today’s information-filled world is a single answer to an open ended question. How can the voice of Siri or Google or Alexa respond when most posed questions produce millions of results, especially if the question has to do with running a business. I’m sure the brilliant internet minds would have a mathematical principle that makes it possible, but my point is that if all questions were so simply answered, then we wouldn’t need so many experts, how-to books, search engines, scientists, or…gasp…trade magazines.  

Best practices for YOU  

What makes it complicated is that the world is not made of right and wrong answers. What works for one person does not always work for another. Perhaps it’s their personality -- sales may be different for a shy person who lacks charisma? Or perhaps it’s the consumer trends in the region that expand or deter growth. For example, it’s no secret that the Northwest loves their coffee or that tech company employees demand free food.  

In trade journalism, it’s well established that you must write about each success story, even if it’s counter to the one you just wrote. Why? Because there is never just one right answer when it comes to business. From the hundreds of lucrative operations and productive operators I’ve profiled – this might be the only thing they all have in common. Each did things similar, and one could argue there is a certain entrepreneurial spirit to business owners, but as far as actual processes, none were identical. Companies seem to be more like organisms that change based on management, region, personnel and even competition. None of those alone produces success, but the proper combination of all seems to be the secret.   

This flexibility in thinking is arguable what sets us most apart from the animal kingdom. It’s why there’s always a new magazine on the best exercises to flatten stomachs and relieve shoulder tension. It’s the meaning of the bizarre saying, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” It’s an important thing to remember as we are wrapping up the year and beginning to plan for 2017 because this is the time of planning and contemplation.  

Many heads win out  

I’ve sat in rooms where a dozen successful operators are discussing their businesses, and a remarkable thing happens. Regardless of how innovative each operator is, every one of them learns something new – they all can take at least one thing away from the exchange to try at their facility. These are smart people. Why didn’t they think of that solution before? Because we are all different. It’s important to read about these different people, in different circumstances and keep an open mind about how their ideas could work in your environment. Most good ideas start as ideas and have to be developed into successful plans. Just look at micro markets, a good idea long before it became the powerful revenue driver it is today.     

So as much as we all love articles and infographics that show us exactly “How To” do something, remember that this is merely one perspective. It is not a law of nature. It may work great. It may work with tweaking. It may not work. An uncertain outcome is not a reason to dismiss it altogether. Instead stay in a state of learning and evolving to reap the greatest rewards. The world changes very fast, and if your company doesn’t change with it, it becomes obsolete. Take the idea, think on it, determine a plan, execute and measure success.