I recently came across an interesting observation about the difference between winners and losers via Business Insider.  Although I’m not a big fan of some of Business Insider’s editorial tactics they do have a good daily email list called Instant MBA that delivers insight from CEO interviews.

This one came from Code42 CEO and cofounder Matthew Dornquast’s interview with The Line (originally on Minnpost.com).  He observed:

The difference between the winners and the losers are the ones that spend that little tiny bit more. They’re not necessarily smarter, they’re not necessarily even more hard-working, it’s like they’re more perfectionist: ‘We’re just going to go a little bit longer. I know we think we’re done, but give me ten more minutes. Can we think of anything else?

We’ve all been in meetings where there is a few minutes of back and forth discussion about a topic, while a sense of frustration at not reaching consensus gradually creeps in.  Then, at the first sign of a conclusion, a sense of relief arrives and the meeting leader quickly ends the meeting, glad that a go-forward plan was reached.  In some companies a majority of conclusions are arrived at in this manner.

I think what Dornquast is saying is that mediocre companies look for *a* plan, excellent companies look for the *right* plan.  That is, the leaders steering the ship in excellent companies do not allow themselves to be derailed by the creeping frustration and grasp at the first mediocre conclusion that inevitably comes in when working through thorny issues.  Often the thorniest issues are the organizations most important struggles that require due attention to arrive at the right plan.

To attach a specific example to this–Apple’s attention to detail is legendary, written about constantly in the tech media.   Most examine Apple’s attention to detail from a product perspective—the feel of the iPhone in your hand, the fluidity of the software/user experience on the iPad.  But attention to detail starts with *ideas*.  I’d bet the phenomenon of grasping at *a* plan to resolve a temporary discomfort is one that is guarded against closely at Apple.  In the end, navigating to the *right* idea is a large part of what separates mediocre companies from excellent one.


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