Let’s get deep for a second. Every company (and person) should have a set of principles they operate within. Whether yours are clearly defined or not – I’m sure you have several that influence decision making.
I recently read the appropriately titled book, Principles, by Ray Dailo of Bridgewater Capital and was impressed by how he distills complex problems/solutions into concise principles that guide everything from his hedge fund growth to family life. A primary thought he reiterates is that his principles are not for you to outright copy, but intended to hopefully influence readers into thinking through their own versions that will make larger life objectives attainable.
So, when I set out to build Overscore a natural thought was… what are our Principles? What are the overarching concepts that have come up over-and-over in my career which I believe are true and guide me towards longer term success? What are the snappy phrases that my peers and I share with each other when providing advice and have really clicked? This was a fun exercise and equally difficult to choose a short list of the ones we believe are most relevant. But here we go, below are our Top 5.
1) Do what you say you are going to do
Top of the list even though it shouldn’t need to be. The single biggest difference between good business and bad business is actually doing what you say you are going to do. You shouldn’t do the easy thing, or the thing you can get away with, or that thing you did last time… do the right thing and what you committed to in every circumstance. I can confidently say that one of our biggest strengths is that clients and partners will never have to doubt follow-through or honesty.
2) Take the stairs
When everyone else is taking the escalator, take the stairs. A random and cheesy thought that has been our mantra for years – and surprisingly applicable more than expected. Do the hard things and enjoy it.
3) Make plans and be willing to change them (maybe)
There is a never ending battle between creating great plans and being willing to totally abandon them. I love plans. But thinking through how executives mature in their careers, one of the biggest indicators of how successful they will become can be determined by not just the value of their direction, but how they approach either sticking to or diverting from that path. Neither option is universally correct but choosing incorrectly can lead to wild success or instant failure. The only certainty is that we should take the time to make truly informed decisions and then ensure our commitment to them is equally as informed over time.
4) Optimize for output
A surprisingly unique discipline of our team is the mindset that all actions, eventually, should be tailored towards measurable output (99% of the time that output = business growth). Sure, discovery is valuable, long strategy sessions are great, relationship building is absolutely mandatory – but we all understand the role of those efforts, right? Teams lose perspective the moment they become more comfortable with process than motivated by output. Companies / teams / individuals must be optimized towards desired outcomes regardless of the process.
5) Trust the truth
Making mistakes or not knowing the answer to a business issue is both inevitable and productive. Why do you think we have buzzwords like “pivot” and “optimize?” Something wasn’t right and now we have the opportunity to make it better – that’s why Overscore exists. A relevant principle from Dalio here is that we all need to operate in an environment where mistakes (or missed opportunity) are acceptable, but only if we also understand, analyze and learn from them – with the goal of moving closer to what is true. See below for a quick graphic I love on this concept of making forward progress.
We synthesize all those thoughts in this blurb down to two statements for our practice:
– Be empowered by mistakes but terrified of failure
– Be ruthless in determining what is true