Donald Keough retired as president, chief operating officer and a director of The Coca-Cola Company in April 1993, positions he held since early 1981. His tenure with the company dates back to 1950. In addition, from 1986 to 1993 he served as chairman of the Board of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., the world’s largest bottling system.
He coined 11 golden rules to follow if you want to lose at business. These have been amplified with the accompanying mindset that you will need, so that they can be applied more effectively if you sincerely want your business to fail.
1. Stop taking risks – Risk taking in business is very dangerous and can lead you to be personally exposed. If you are lower down the management hierarchy, it is never worthwhile taking a risk unless you are absolutely sure that you can in no way be blamed for failure if things go wrong. If you stop taking risks, you and your business will never fail in any venture.
2. Be Content – You have a reasonably successful company. Be content with what you have achieved and sit back and enjoy the business. Grand plans and vision for the future of the business only serve to distract from the successful running of what you have. Stop looking at the future – look at what you have achieved. Look back and glow in the satisfaction of what you have created.
3. Never deviate from what the founder did – If you are running a business created by someone else, do not even think of altering the approach. What worked thirty years ago when the business was growing will work for you. There is absolutely no need to look at any other horizon. Stick to what you know has worked and do not try to innovate with new ideas. This is dangerous.
4. Be Inflexible – Always stick to what you know. If one of your staff comes up with a bright idea, always reject it because you never know where it will lead. As the boss, you always know the right thing to do and the direction in which to head. After all, you are the boss. When people come to you with good ideas, don’t be mislead into thinking that they may have something. They are just after glory, so you should really discourage this behaviour by being totally inflexible in your approach.
5. Rely totally on research, consultants and experts – Always remember that these are the people to take advice from and action. After all, they are the experts. You may have people who work for you who may have what they think are good ideas, but don’t be fooled. The experts always know best. It is always an idea to bring in massive teams of consultants to analyse your business, because they really do know what they are doing. Generally, the more that you have to pay them, the better the advice. Also, always pick a big name consulting company. These will inevitable be the best and produce the most radical ideas which will turn your business upside down. However, one rule here is not to tell your employees what they are up to. Keep them guessing. Most companies that have used this approach in the past have been really successful in achieving most of their strategic failure aims.
6. Concentrate on your competitors, not your customers – It is a misguided trend these days to concentrate on your customers needs. The people to concentrate on are your competitors. Refocus your business to concentrate on them and to try to anticipate what they will be doing next. Customers will always be there so don’t worry about them. As long as you know what your competitors are up to you will be fine.
7. Put the Company first – not the Customer – In all business dealings from the small transaction to the biggest, put the Company first. Invest in a robust claims department to ensure that all customer complaints are rejected as fully as possible. Complaints can cost the Company a lot of money if they are not dealt with firmly. Ensure that you have extensive terms and conditions relating to every transaction, which provide maximum exclusion from any liability and enforce them absolutely with no exceptions. You will not then have to pay out some much.
8. Solve administrative concerns first – Remember, administrative concerns are the lifeblood of the organisation. Without extensive administration, process and procedures, the company cannot work. These process will stop your employees from taking decisions or trying to be innovative in any way. As long as they stick to the administrative rules everything will be fine. Engender a sense of fear in your employees if they deviate from the rules, whatever the circumstances. In this way, you will have the piece of mind that the business is being run in the correct way – your way.
9. Let others do your thinking – e.g. group headquarters – If you are in a senior position in a subsidiary, you are not there to think. You are there to do what they say. It is best to have no views at all yourself about the running of the business and future strategy. Let them sort it out and just agree and do it. It is not your problem. Never have any radical ideas for improvement – even if you believe that they will be beneficial. Your ideas may be frowned upon and is in breach of the first golden rule of not taking risks.
10. Rely on ‘TGE (thats good enough) and TNMJ (Thats not my job) – These are key issues to remember especially when dealing with product development. It is not necessary to ensure that a product delivers what you claim, just that it will sell. Remember that you have a very robust customer complains department who will reject any moaning customers. Also, make sure that you know what your responsibilities are and stick to them. never think that you are responsible for dealing with any issue if it is not your job.
11. Rationalise slow growth – Remember, that if your potential market is growing very quickly and you are growing at a slow pace. this is good. It means that your slow growth is sustainable. Just plod along with what you are doing and always be satisfied with the results. The fast growth of your compeitors and the market means that you will always have headroom and potential to grow further in the future.
These are the 11 Golden Rules and the accompanying mindset which have to be followed if you really want to guarantee business failure. However, even if you are following just one or two of these rules, there is a good chance that you will succeed in failing.
Of course if on the other hand you would like business success, just reverse the above!