Question: What is the secret of all secret business solutions?
Answer: There is NONE!
Solutions to recurring and persistent business performance challenges are like medicines and our consulting world acts like a gigantic pharmacy. As a matter of fact, we are surrounded by an infinite abundance of cures, remedies and treatments that promise to relieve pain and increase health and longevity; raising the bottom-line and increasing competitiveness.
Although most formulas are secret and protected by copyright, the very idea that they contain the Holy Grail to health and longevity is an illusion! There is no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all remedy. After all, health and longevity can be compromised in an infinite number of ways. In other words, not all patients with similar symptoms share the same ailment. Furthermore, different ailments demand different treatments, dosages or methods of application. For example, two or more people may experience the same symptoms, for example a headache and nausea, but one might suffer from a concussion due to a fall and the other from a hangover after a night of heavy drinking. In that respect, businesses are not different from people!
These of course are only layman examples; perish the thought of more severe ailments of which medical doctors can contrive, with similar symptoms but requiring altogether different treatments. What to think about the fact that many pharmaceutical solutions contain poisons? That means that it is a cure only when administered in the right amount. This means that the same solution can be spot on for one business and detrimental to another.
What I believe to be the lesson in this analogy is that medical doctors and pharmacists are foremost experts of diagnostics. They know the indicators of health and they are familiar with the patterns of ailments in all their variants and derivatives. The variance between a patient’s healthy state and a diseased state is the ailment. Once the ailment has been identified, a treatment can be prescribed and administered based on critical prerequisites such as the patient’s sex, age, allergies, medical history, and known side-effects of the proposed treatment. Knowledge of such prerequisites is the result of a thorough investigation prior to any diagnostics. When was the last time that anyone asked you about that prior to offering their ready-made solutions?
In my experience, there are no secrets in diagnostics and treatments. Although treatments may rely on the use of specific technology or know-how protected by copyright, the process or “How-To” is a matter of logically correct thinking. This implies that different thinkers can create different solutions that bring about the same effect; there is more than one way to skin a cat!
The fact that you’ve never heard of a certain course of action does not make it a secret, i.e.:
- Knowledge that is reserved for the initiated or privileged and painstakingly kept from you.
- Knowledge containing a line of reasoning that is not immediately or generally apparent.
- Knowledge that is beyond ordinary human understanding – a mystery.
What bothers me about so-called secret solutions is that sellers make you believe that there is only one way to remedy your pain and suffering, most notably theirs. How often do you give thought to the effect on your authenticity or sustainable competitive advantage when applying the same solution as everyone else? What will that do for your differentiation, profitability and sustainability? If it has no effect, then why bother investing in that “secret”?
The only secret in business that I know of can be found in a business system’s design, construction, implementation, maintenance and management; in other words, within the system’s Business Governance. And, even when nothing is kept secret, it might be nearly impossible to emulate, let alone copy 100% process for process and step-by-step. Even the ingredients might be widely available but how you organize them into a singular, unique, integrated and open system and direct that system towards the realization of a compelling vision of service to others is an art; creativity and innovation without secrets.
I would love to teach you this art form, omitted from nearly all systems of business education. In his famous book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill called this “The missing link”.