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John Fahy is the Professor of Marketing in the University of Limerick and Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Adelaide. He is an award winning author and speaker on marketing issues around the world.

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Monday
Jul162012

Means and Ends

In business, results are everything. For publically quoted companies quarterly results are fretted about internally, pored over by analysts and draw rapid responses, either good or bad, from investors. In small and medium sized businesses, the pressures may be less intense but are no less important. Rising sales and profits suggest that things are going well whereas the converse is a cause for concern. But is this fixation with the bottom line appropriate? Is it the outcome or how you get there that matters most?

 

 

Professional sport provides a very interesting parallel for business. Teams want to win but many of the best think less about the result and more about what needs to be done effectively to get there. In a sport like rugby union for example, percentage line outs won, number of line breaks, percentage of kicks converted combined with number of tackles missed on the defensive side are pretty good indicators of who is going to come out on top in the end. Banks of statistics are now available for team sports and they can be very revealing. Spain gloriously won the recent European Soccer Championships. The statistics behind their play are revealing. On average, they had possession of the ball for almost 60% off the time in their games – an average of 39 minutes compared with 22 minutes for the worst performing team in the competition. Renowned for their passing, they not surprisingly dominated the passing stakes making almost 5,000 passes (1,000 more than the next placed team) and successfully completing a staggering 80% of them (versus an average of 70% for the other 15 teams). The scored more goals than anyone else (12) and conceded less – just one. The more time you keep the ball and the more accurate you are with it the more chances to win you create. Means to ends!

 

Businesses need to operate in the same manner. What are the key means that we need to attend to in order to reach the desired ends? Win on these dimensions and the sales and profits take care of themselves.

 

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