Speaker | Entrepreneur | Author

Sam Davidson's blog

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I Read a Book: The Myth of Excellence

The subtitle made me want to buy it: Why Great Companies Never Try to Be the Best at Everything. While it might be easy to think that the successful companies and businesses in our world are good at everything, Fred Crawford and Ryan Matthews show that the best organizations out there are great at one thing, good at a second, and meet the minimum requirement for everything else.

These two consultants break down consumer offerings into five categories:

  • Price
  • Service
  • Access
  • Product
  • Experience

They then walk the reader through profiles of real life companies that offer these attributes as their primary or secondary offering, showing you how they do it and what the results have been. For example, Southwest Airlines offers low prices, but also makes sure its service is exceptional. After that, its access, product and experience are just average.

While not every chapter may apply to your business, you should be reminded of two things:

  1. You have to do something better than anyone else. Maybe you have the best tasting chocolate chip cookie, maybe you have the friendliest staff, or maybe you are closer than everyone else. Whatever your differentiation is, you've got to have something or else you soon won't have anything.
  2. You shouldn't try to do everything better than everyone else. If you do, you'll fail at doing anything better than anyone else. And average businesses go out of business.

For me, the book is remarkable because a lot of its recommendations still hold true. I would, however, like to see an updated version since this copy was written before 9/11, before wireless Internet was everywhere, and before online shopping became the norm.

Whether you're starting your own thing, or managing part of someone else's, this book is a nice reminder that you need to stand out.