August 6, 2001

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - The Myth of Excellence

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 7:20 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

The Myth of Excellence: Why Great Companies Never Try to be the Best at Everything by Fred Crawford & Ryan Mathews, Crown Business, 240 Pages, $27.50 Hardcover, July 2001, ISBN 0609608207
Around ten years ago, a very good book came out called: The Discipline of Market Leaders. The authors, Treacy and Wiersema, declared that no company could succeed if they were trying to be all things to all people. They then based their theory of business success on three disciplines: product leadership, operational excellence and customer intimacy. (On a personal note, this book revolutionized my business strategy. When I read The Discipline of Market Leaders, I had already witnessed what the authors were talking about but hadnt put a name to my discomfort). Crawford and Mathews, authors of The Myth of Excellence expand on this theory of limited excellence.
The authors break down marketing into five characteristics: Access, Experience, Price, Product, and Services. For a business to excel, they suggest, it needs to be great in only one of the five areas, while good in another area, and at least average in the rest. They use Wal-Mart and Target as examples. Wal-Mart excels in price and has a good inventory; Target excels in inventory and selection and has a good price. In a survey of more than 5,000 consumers, what Crawford and Mathews found out was surprising: 64% of consumers surveyed said that honest, consistent price was more important than lowest price, while 73% said respect and courtesy was the most important to them. As a retailer, I was interested to learn that 69% of consumers surveyed defined superior service as the ability to return a product unconditionally. Interesting findings! And ones, I am happy to report, that are cornerstones of 800-CEO-READs philosophy.
This book is absolutely loaded with examples that make sense and is one that I will have to consider for my best of the year.