You know Occam's Razor, of course, even if you don't know it by that name. It's the theory that argues that the simplest explanation is usually the best one.

Occam's Razor explains why most businesses--and people--fail.

When we conduct post-mortems on why a business went Chapter 11, or someone was unable to achieve their goals, we are tempted to look at macro reasons such as the state of the economy, or the level of competition or even the labor markets.

Invariably, the real reason is far simpler.

Two quick examples make the point.

It seemed every other ad during the NFC playoffs was for Subway's new, premium chicken sandwich. I like to eat as healthy as I can when I travel, so I was intrigued.

The other day, knowing I would be flying during lunch time, I walked down to the Subway store in town. It opens at 8 am, according to their sign. I got there at 8:20 and the doors were locked and the lights were off.

The sandwich may be terrific. I may never know.

Example two. It is easy to make fun of the Post Office. And as someone who really hopes it survives, I hate to pile on.

But my experience on Saturday doesn't give me hope.

My wife and I were off to have lunch with friends and decided to run a few errands on the way.

A trip through the drive through at the bank took seconds. Dropping my dry cleaning, not much longer. And then it was on to the post office.

"Was there a line," my wife asked when I got back to the car 17 minutes after I left.


"Then what took you?"

There was just one clerk working on their busiest morning of their week."

The moral here is simple: Success is hard enough without getting in your own way. Making sure you have the basics right is a key part of making thing run smoothly.

You would think opening on time and staffing at appropriate levels would be taken as givens.

Subway and the post office show they are not.



Published on: Mar 1, 2015
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