100,000 Fully Engaged
Tutors for For-Profit Companies,
A wise son makes a glad father,
But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.
Treasures of wickedness profit nothing,
But righteousness delivers from death.
The LORD will not allow the righteous soul to famish,
But He casts away the desire of the wicked.
He who has a slack hand becomes poor,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
He who gathers in summer is a wise son;
He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.
— Proverbs 10:1-5 (NKJV)
Improving a for-profit enterprise through combining complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs was first described with implementation detail in The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution. The description of two complementary breakthroughs (sales increases and cost reductions) was conceptually expanded to include many more complementary benefit breakthroughs in Chapter 11 of Adventures of an Optimist, including ways to become more fruitful for the Lord. Here’s a brief overview for those who haven’t read the books recently.
The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution shows that by combining two specific 2,000 percent solutions (to increase sales by 20 times and to reduce per-unit costs by 96 percent) a company can earn at least 400 times more income. Revealing this concept and describing how to accomplish it eliminated the need for many more breakthroughs to accomplish the same profit increase. As a consequence of creating the two complementary breakthroughs, profits expand much faster (potentially by 20 times faster) while the leadership effort required is greatly reduced (potentially by more than 95 percent).
From Chapter 11 of Adventures of an Optimist, readers learn that while optimizing its secular, for-profit activities, a company will be far more successful if it develops a series of complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs that greatly expand the organization’s value to all of its stakeholders (those who are directly or indirectly affected by the enterprise) as well as to millions of people who are currently unconnected to and unaffected by the firm.
After further considering the recommended sequence for adding the most powerful complementary, exponential benefit improvements, I now appreciate more ways that each breakthrough can cause a for-profit organization to become more fruitful for God’s eternal purposes. Before I can explain what I mean, I need to introduce some more information.
Let me start by ideally sequencing complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs for a business:
1. Increase sales of offerings by at least twenty times.
2. Reduce per-unit cost of offering by at least 96 percent.
3. Shrink per-unit asset use (net investments) by at least 96 percent.
4. Lower the cost of capital (cost of acquiring and keeping the money used to invest in and to operate the company) by at least 96 percent.
5. Provide at least twenty times more benefits to all stakeholders in ways that strengthen their ability and encouragement to cooperate with the company.
6. Assist competitors in copying the company’s activities to help increase the firm’s innovativeness by at least twenty times.
7. Profitably solve large social problems to generate at least twenty times more value in social benefits relative to the company’s earnings.
8. Enable large numbers of underemployed people to become highly productive (such as by improving entrepreneurial capabilities to full effectiveness among those who are partially prepared to succeed).
9. Streamline the organization’s use of the 2,000 percent solution process to speed by at least twenty times the rate and frequency of creating such breakthroughs.
In addition to recommending this sequence for making breakthroughs, I also encourage for-profit enterprises to continually repeat the 2,000 percent solution process to improve each breakthrough that has already been implemented. Following this direction may mean that an enterprise will be learning how to increase revenues by 400 times (by applying the 2,000 percent solution process again to increase revenues by an additional 20 times) after it has reduced per-unit offering costs by 96 percent and while it is just starting to learn how to shrink its per-unit asset use by 96 percent.
Let me share some information developed since Adventures of an Optimist was written that is based on research conducted by the The Billionaire Entrepreneurs’ Master Mind, an organization that I direct on behalf of The 400 Year Project for its members:
• While increasing revenues by twenty times, it’s often possible to provide parallel growth benefits for stakeholders.
• When reducing per-unit costs of offerings, it’s often possible to do the same for stakeholders.
• By repeatedly reducing per-unit costs of offerings, it is possible to take costs down to zero and then to move into negative cost territory (activities that formerly had substantial costs associated with them become, instead, net sources of significant profits) so that per-unit profits greatly exceed 100 percent of the price paid by customers for an offering.
• In reducing per-unit asset use, it is frequently possible to do the same for stakeholders.
• After repeatedly reducing asset use, it is possible to operate a business with less than a zero investment to create huge amounts of “free” capital, money that is acquired at no cost and is not needed for any purpose in the existing business operations (before considering the additional cash developed from retained earnings that are not needed to operate the business).
Keep this background information in mind while I explain how fruitfulness in creating eternal benefits for the Lord’s purposes can be unintentionally accomplished by for-profit companies that are achieving such secular success. In explaining these joint effects, I begin by separately discussing each of the first four breakthrough types from the preceding numbered list.
Increasing revenues by twenty times often requires providing a lot more customer benefits in order to attract so many additional purchases, benefits that can spill over into serving the Lord’s purposes. For instance, if a manufacturer finds a way to produce printing paper so it makes a more powerful visual impression on readers, some of the paper may be used for tracts or books that encourage Christian faith or witnessing. As a consequence of this product improvement, some unsaved people may read tracts who otherwise would not, and some Christians may read more about witnessing and be persuaded to do more of it. When human activity helps bring more attention to the Lord, more souls may be saved through the Holy Spirit’s influence.
When per-unit costs of offerings are reduced by 96 percent, the prices that customers pay will usually decline as a means of encouraging even more purchases. Any price decrease can increase the work of the Lord’s people by increasing the purchasing power of their financial resources. For instance, if paper for tracts costs less, some publishers will charge less for tracts, and more tracts may be purchased and distributed by willing witnesses who can now afford to buy more of them.
When per-unit asset use is reduced by 96 percent, companies can afford to expand faster, to make more improvements to their offerings, and to charge even lower prices. Any of those changes may make what they sell more available, more useful, and less expensive to purchase. When what is purchased has a potential use for the Lord, His work will be further enhanced by either increasing how much can be purchased with His people’s money, by making the offering easier to acquire and use, or by enhancing its effectiveness.
By lowering the cost of capital by 96 percent, businesses will be able to acquire the resources they need at still lower costs as well as to purchase competitor and stakeholder operations that can be greatly improved. When such expansions occur, whatever benefits customers and other stakeholders receive are further increased through added scale effects enjoyed by the business. Activities using the firm’s offerings can be expanded and enhanced through either greater availability, further improvements in offerings, or further lowering of prices.
Because the benefits for the Lord’s work that result from the remaining five types of breakthroughs are pretty obvious, I won’t discuss them individually. Let me simply observe that many saved and unsaved people will find their burdens lightened by these types of breakthroughs so they can focus more on Him, while those who are doing the Lord’s work will have more and better resources to help them accomplish His will.
Let me provide one caution. Some for-profit leaders do not look for improvements and ways to implement them that avoid harm during the change process. As Carol Coles and I wrote in The Ultimate Competitive Advantage, it’s important to avoid harming anyone while making a business-model improvement. Otherwise, the harm that’s created can easily outweigh the benefits that are sought. Perhaps no better reminder of this point can be found than by revisiting Paul’s caution in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NKJV), (also quoted in Chapter Four):
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Many people will find it daunting to locate ways to make breakthroughs without harming someone. Relax. When you have accepted His free gift of Salvation by repenting your sins and choosing to follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit can direct you to such solutions because God knows more than we can ask, think, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV). Pray in faith for guidance and wait patiently for the answers to be presented to you.
With these multiplied spiritual and Earthly blessings in mind, here are some roles that I see tutors playing to assist for-profit organizations to make more complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs:
• Provide new measurement tools that are useful for identifying the potential to be more fruitful for the Lord through creating benefit breakthroughs.
• Help leaders to appreciate their potential to make complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs.
• Document the future best practices for making each type of breakthrough.
• Describe the ideal best practices for each type of breakthrough.
• Identify other types of complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs that should be added to the recommended sequence.
• Train people in for-profit organizations to make each type of breakthrough.
Before looking at these individual roles, please realize that a large part of these challenges involves clearly communicating important new information. One of the best books ever written about how to introduce a new subject to anyone to help that person see its potential for them is The Secret Language of Leadership: How Leaders Inspire Action through Narrative by Stephen Denning (John Wiley, 2007). I highly recommend that you buy, read, and apply the book if you feel called to engage in any tutoring activities with business leaders.
Let describe what I have in mind for each of these tutoring roles, beginning with providing new measurement tools that are useful for identifying the potential to be more fruitful for the Lord.
Provide New Measurement Tools That Are Useful
for Identifying the Potential to Be More Fruitful for the Lord
And the temple, when it was being built,
was built with stone finished at the quarry,
so that no hammer or chisel or any iron tool was heard in the temple
while it was being built.
— 1 Kings 6:7 (NKJV)
Tutors need to be careful in considering possible tools for measuring potential fruitfulness in serving the Lord. Many such efforts have been badly flawed.
As an example, consider the many “scientific” experiments where researchers have tried to measure how prayer influences the results of medical treatments. In many of these experiments, some people are asked to pray for the recovery of one set of patients while no one in the study prays for the control group of patients. The intent is to isolate the effect of prayer on the medical results.
It doesn’t take much knowledge of the Bible to realize that this is a poor research design. Such a design assumes that God either doesn’t exist or is neutral about the results of the medical treatments. These assumptions are clearly wrong based on what the Bible tells us. God may not intend that certain people be healed because He either intends to take them home or wants to develop their spiritual strength, or because of their unrepented sins, while He may be eager to heal others to show His presence and to encourage their testimonies.
Prayer isn’t going to change His plans in many cases. Let me share some of the reasons. All prayers are not the same in effect. The people in the study who are praying may not be saved, and God will not hear their prayers because He doesn’t recognize them as His. Or the people are saved but they may not pray in the name of Jesus, so He doesn’t have to grant their prayers. In addition, some saved people may be living such sinful lives that they are almost emptied of His Holy Spirit, reducing the effectiveness of their prayers. There may also be Christians, unconnected to the study, who are praying effectively on behalf of some of the people who are receiving no prayer in the study. And on it goes. I wonder if God has a good laugh when He considers such “scientific” measurement methods that some people have devised to measure His power.
In thinking about measurement tools, let’s also consider what God has to say about tools. God commanded Moses not to use iron tools when making various stone altars. Since God had made the stones in ways that pleased Him, it’s easy to appreciate that He might find the changes that many people make to His stones to be unappealing. If God had wanted the stones in other shapes, He would simply have made them that way.
As we see from 1 Kings 6:7 (NKJV), even when stones for building the temple in Jerusalem needed to be cut out and shaped from larger rocks in a quarry, God instructed that the noisy, messy work be done at the quarry rather than on His temple grounds.
While I cannot claim to know why God was careful to keep tools away from some altars and the temple, I believe that part of His concern could have been based on knowing how often humans misuse tools. I draw that observation based on noting that in most Old Testament references to tools, the text tells His people to stop making idols that draw people away from worshipping Him.
When we become too confident in our use of tools, we may also stop relying on Him. God knows that we act like such dumb sheep that we continually need Him to shepherd us away from danger. In light of our limited understanding of God’s supernatural ways and the spiritual battles continually being waged around us, not relying on God is always a bad idea. We may just start building another Tower of Babel or some other useless monument to our folly.
I don’t want to presume to know how God wants us to measure the potential of businesses to be more fruitful for Him, but I would like to make some Bible-based suggestions that could help tutors to find and develop more Godly measurements. Tutors should check the appropriateness of any potential tools they identify through studying the Bible and by seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit in prayer:
• The Bible tells us to do God’s will, rather than ours. I recommend that tutors help business leaders understand how making Godly purposes the centerpieces of their enterprises improves performance by gaining more of His supernatural support. It will be very interesting to see what is learned from such measurements.
In working with Christian business leaders (and Christians who want to be business leaders), I’m continually struck that almost none of them think about how their business activities might serve more of God’s purposes. When a current or potential leader ignores the opportunity to align with God, it’s even more foolish than if a company turned its back on the 1,000 highest-potential customers that could be attracted. With God’s favor poured out to fulfill His purposes, a company can obtain more benefits than would follow while making a lot more effort to accomplish Earthly purposes. When we serve God’s needs as our top priority, He promises to take care of the rest of our needs. We should trust that such supernatural support for Earthly results will also be true when our businesses are serving Him as their top priority in as many ways as possible.
Here’s an example of what I mean that’s drawn from a recent experience I had. Some Christians wanted to start a business to provide information services. In doing so, the leaders thought about what kinds of services excited them. Wouldn’t it be better to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit about what services God wants the organization to deliver? God may know that the same service design could also help church leaders to make their work more productive on His behalf. In such a case when church volunteers employ the services and notice the greater effectiveness, many will be curious about how the services might help their businesses. And on it goes in cycles of virtuous improvement as His power provides expanded benefits and opportunities.
• Whom to serve today? Jesus prayed daily to find out whom His Father wanted Him to serve next. These directions sometimes led Jesus towards specific people at certain times (as when He went many miles out of His way to meet the Samaritan woman at the well during mid-day, an unusual time for a woman to be drawing water) and away from people at other times (as when He went alone into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights to fast and pray).
Business leaders could also pray daily for His directions concerning who to serve, keep track of any directions they receive from the Holy Spirit, and faithfully record the results of following any directions they receive. From these data, useful measurements and metrics might emerge to help leaders better heed the Holy Spirit.
• Categorize business activities in terms of spiritual effects. I see at least four categorizations that offer potential value for measuring and assessing decisions and actions:
— Creates more spiritually helpful influences (such as developing new Bible-study groups for those who have none).
— Reduces spiritually harmful influences (such as providing more effective filtering software to reduce the amount of pornography children see on the Internet).
— Establishes a spiritually harmful influence (such as by providing access to new kinds of gossip).
— Lessens spiritually helpful influences (such removing books of Christian testimony from public libraries).
As I’m sure you realize, a single action could potentially have all four types of spiritual effects (such as a new advertising campaign that quotes the Bible to encourage less use of alcohol, but that features sexually provocative situations in which people are encouraged to be more physically active on Sundays). Simply identifying the potential negative effects of an action could in many cases cause business leaders to search for better solutions and to withhold approval of changes in other cases when no better solutions are found.
• While implementing breakthroughs, track changes that occur in important spiritual practices such as Bible reading and study, prayer, and being obedient to God in various ways.
While it would be presumptuous to believe that business leaders will know what to do about any unexpected, harmful spiritual effects, at least such business leaders would know that spiritual practices are declining and seek guidance and receive direction from the Holy Spirit. When the effects are clearly beneficial for spiritual practices, business leaders could cautiously expand what they are doing while carefully observing if their increased activity also helps expand helpful spiritual practices. Prayer and patience in waiting for guidance will be critical in many cases for guiding such successes in the right way.
Because I trust that the Holy Spirit will speak clearly to the tutors called to work with developing the spiritual measurements, I leave the subject at this point rather than developing a more complete list of potential measurements based on what the Holy Spirit has shared with me.
Let’s next consider how to help leaders appreciate their potential to make complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs.
Help Leaders to Appreciate
Their Potential to Make
Complementary, Exponential Benefit
For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption,
but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
And let us not grow weary while doing good,
for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all,
especially to those who are of the household of faith.
— Galatians 6:8-10 (NKJV)
One of my joys has been learning how many outstanding business leaders deeply care about serving those who depend on their organizations. In their private devotions, business leaders often see themselves as having a calling, somewhat akin to a ministry. When such a sense of responsibility is felt, I have found that appealing to a leader’s better nature has often secured engagement in seeking benefit breakthroughs when the prospects of mere Earthly gains or personal aggrandizement did not.
A lot of people are morally directed in this way. Most people will do more to help meet a fundamental need of someone else than they will to provide a marginal benefit for themselves. In addition, faith in God has taught Christians to look for opportunities to serve. People who gain joy from humble service for others are going to have the inspiration, focus, and energy to work on and to make a lot more benefit breakthroughs.
It’s also easier to make a breakthrough when you are focused on helping others. Stakeholders are quick to spot the difference between the leaders who want to make changes for their own benefit and leaders who are, instead, looking to help stakeholders. When business leaders demonstrate a genuine intent to serve others, a lot more stakeholder energy, thinking, and flexibility will be engaged.
I don’t mean to suggest that tutors only describe altruistic reasons for making benefit breakthroughs. Such reasons may not be appealing to a specific leader. In addition, the future best practice for encouraging business leaders to engage making in certain breakthroughs will be to simply describe the economic benefits.
However, I do mean to encourage tutors to be aware of appealing to altruistic reasons when doing so is appropriate for encouraging a particular individual.
Even if a business leader agrees that gaining the benefits of breakthroughs is desirable, the leader may be uninterested in the opportunity. Most business leaders will insist there’s no way they could ever increase revenues by twenty times, decrease per-unit costs of offerings by 96 percent, eliminate 96 percent of their per-unit asset usage for providing their offerings, or slash their cost of capital by 96 percent. The same leaders will also tell you that achieving the other five complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs is simply wishful thinking.
The basis of their assertions will often be that they would have already made the improvements if they were possible, and that they know of no one who has ever done any one of these things. In making such observations, company leaders are simply displaying their ignorance, their relatively low levels of interest in making large improvements, and their desires to be proud of what they have accomplished. We should love them and not judge them for holding these mistaken views.
To help you feel more sympathetic to business leaders, let me demonstrate a little about how our minds work by sharing an example of how people often respond to new information. Imagine if someone simply described a platypus to you, but you had neither heard of nor seen one.
You could probably accept that it has fur. “Okay.” You might have no trouble imagining that it has a tail like a beaver. “Yeah.” You could probably envision that it could have webbed front feet featuring sharp claws. “I’m okay with that.” You might start to have trouble though when you were told that the males have spurs that can deliver venom. “What?” Mention that a platypus is a mammal but that the females lay eggs, and your face might start to scrunch up in doubt. “Huh?” Get to a description of the duck-like bill, and your mind probably says to you, “This person has got to be kidding me.” By the time you found out that platypuses have no teeth and use gravel to “chew” their food, you would probably be walking away, smiling and laughing in disbelief. Yet if you listened to the same description while watching platypuses swim, eat, and lay their eggs in Australia, you would find it to be relatively easy to accept what your eyes revealed.
As the example of learning about platypuses shows, a good way to encourage anyone is to provide some powerful evidence that can be directly and positively experienced. Wise tutors working with business leaders will become adept at designing small-scale, inexpensive tests of making various benefit breakthroughs to demonstrate and to provide hands-on experience with the substantial potential to accomplish much more.
Let me give you a small-business example of what I mean. I focus on small businesses with this example because these organizations create most innovations and provide more than half of all employment growth.
The majority of small businesses lack sufficient profitability to please their owners because they have too few customers. Realizing that they need many more customers, small business leaders become anxious to add more. To succeed, many small businesses will add a lot of unattractive, relatively unprofitable customers who make it much less fun to operate the business. Because of their dedication to helping their businesses succeed, the leaders soldier on anyway.
Let’s assume that a little research by a tutor shows that a small business is not effectively marketing its offerings to 97 percent of the most desirable and potentially profitable customers. If a tutor first helps a leader to understand who his or her ideal customers are, the leader will become energized to gain more of them.
Next, the tutor could show the leader that the company isn’t making effective engagement with its ideal customers. Then, the tutors should describe some simple ways to make such connections. If the tutor helps organize a two-week test to demonstrate the potential, the leader will be eager to reorient all the firm’s marketing to make more of such beneficial sales.
Many business leaders will have an even harder time understanding how they can reduce per-unit costs of offerings by 96 percent. Let me briefly describe how such improvements can be made to help tutors start thinking about how to document the future best practice for this kind of breakthrough.
The most attractive customers in most cases won’t need many of the costs that are currently being incurred to serve unattractive customers. As a result, the sales-expanding breakthrough will help lower per-unit costs. In addition, with the added scale of so many increased sales, a lot of per-unit costs will drop even more.
Those changes alone usually won’t eliminate anything approaching 96 percent of per-unit costs. The key change will come from carving out from current offerings everything but what is most valuable to customers and other stakeholders (especially customers’ customers and the end users of the offering in its final form). Then, enhance and streamline providing the offering’s most valuable aspects, and you will have reduced per-unit costs by 96 percent.
Here’s an example. Imagine that a consulting firm currently has costs of $10,000 to perform a certain kind of assignment. During that work, data are gathered and analyzed, and the results are presented and explained to the client in the context of the consulting firm’s experiences. Almost all of the costs are tied up in data-gathering, analysis, and developing the presentation materials. Yet almost all of the value for clients comes in comparing what is learned to the consulting firm’s experiences and drawing key lessons from the comparisons.
As an alternative approach, the consulting firm could provide a template to allow clients to gather the data in some highly effective ways. Software could be created to cheaply format the data into a comparison to the consulting firm’s experiences so they can be easily interpreted and explained to the client. More software can be used to automatically create presentation materials, avoiding almost all preparation costs. Such a well-planned format might then only require a brief discussion in order to be understood. If the materials are self-explanatory enough, the discussion could even be conducted by video over Skype or some other low-cost service. As a result, the consulting firm’s costs to acquire data, to format the information, to communicate with the client, and to answer questions about what was learned could easily fall to $400 or less.
In the case of a manufactured item, it may be that the major part of the current offering will need to be turned into either information or a service before 96 percent of per-unit costs can be eliminated. Or in other cases, a redesign of the item in which the product is used may be needed so that a lot of other costs are eliminated from some aspects of what the customer pays for or does.
Now that you have a better appreciation of how to help business leaders understand the potential to create benefit breakthroughs, let’s consider how tutors can be helpful in documenting the future best practices for making each type of breakthrough.
Document the Future Best Practices
for Making Each Type of Breakthrough
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD,
thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
— Jeremiah 29:11-12 (NKJV)
As a first step, tutors should kindly show business leaders the management processes that others have been, are, and will be using to make each type of benefit breakthrough and what kinds of new business models have produced the desired breakthroughs. When the examples are for businesses with strong similarities to their own, some business leaders will be able to appreciate the potential to change and will want to learn from the examples. These inspired learners will mostly be people who enjoy a challenge and who always want to be the best at whatever they do.
Because we know that the 400 Year Project’s books documenting such successes and describing how to accomplish even more have experienced limited readership in many countries, I suspect that few business people will be interested in following the breakthrough examples.
There are more reasons for complacency about performance. If their businesses simply produce a small percentage profit improvement each year, most of the uninterested leaders will be well paid and well treated by owners. Many other leaders see themselves as doing a good job if they simply succeed as custodians of a company’s legacy, rather than by boldly innovating.
Similar observations could be made about most activities in life. Many people find it more comfortable to fit in with what the crowd does rather than to try to positively stand out. In addition, most people are just as happy with what they have and where they are as they would be by accomplishing more, even when the Lord’s purposes are at stake.
If most peoples’ minds and emotions worked any less complacently, I would suggest that many more tutors plan to assist businesses to document future best practices for making the various types of benefit breakthroughs. I pray that I’m wrong. If I am, there will certainly be a profit incentive to draw more tutors to this work. As a consequence, I feel confident that any tutor shortage describing the future best practices for benefit breakthroughs by businesses should be of short duration.
There’s another factor to consider in estimating demand for tutors. One successful application of two or more complementary, exponential breakthroughs may cause almost every other business in an industry to sell to the innovator or to cease operations. As a result, the number of businesspeople it takes to transform an industry by making such breakthroughs is quite small.
In addition, a single future best practice example of how to make a certain kind of breakthrough may be applicable to dozens of industries. As a consequence, I don’t think it will take very many tutors to document the future best practices for each type of breakthroughs.
I suggest that tutors focus on documenting the future best practices in the recommended sequence for making breakthroughs. In this way, more relevant information will be available sooner to those who start creating complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs in the recommended order.
I also encourage tutors to think beyond the kind of documentations that apply only to very large companies. Such firms are few in number and are often far from being innovative. Be sure that most of the documentation is done for smaller, newer businesses, especially for those that have only one employee, the founder.
To help with this documentation, be sure to remember that research directions for identifying future best practices are available in The 2,000 Percent Solution and The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook. In developing such documentation, tutors may also find it helpful to study the three blueprints in Appendix B of 2,000 Percent Solution Living as a way to start their thinking about how to develop and to format future best practices documentations.
As a final caution, let me remind you that some leaders have sensitive consciences, and some of them will be concerned about the potential harm that could follow from making such large breakthroughs. As I noted in the first part of this chapter, breakthroughs need to be designed and implemented with loving concern so that no one is harmed. Be sure that the examples you locate and document follow that principle.
Let’s shift subjects now to consider ways tutors can describe the ideal best practices for making each type of breakthrough.
Describe the Ideal Best Practices for Each Type of Breakthrough
“The one who breaks open will come up before them;
They will break out,
Pass through the gate,
And go out by it;
Their king will pass before them,
With the LORD at their head.”
— Micah 2:13 (NKJV)
Before addressing the roles that tutors can play in describing ideal best practices, let me point out that directions for identifying them are available in The 2,000 Percent Solution and The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook. In deciding how to describe such practices, tutors may find it helpful to restudy the three blueprints in Appendix B of 2,000 Percent Solution Living.
Based on my experiences with designing, implementing, describing, and writing about benefit breakthroughs, I suspect that describing ideal best practices for each type of breakthrough will be enormously beneficial to business leaders who are already interested in improving performance. In terms of my personal development as a breakthrough creator, it’s clear that the time I have spent to understand more about ideal best practices has been unusually productive. Vast new dimensions of opportunity continually unveil themselves to me through considering and working with ideal best practices, learning that occurs much faster than I can share and write about. With many tutors engaged in this work, describing ideal best practices for making various kinds of breakthroughs will start to catch up with the work of identifying such practices.
Tutors need to realize that my experiences with ideal best practices will seem strange to many business leaders. Business innovation is usually focused on developing new offerings or technologies. Hardly any business leaders have ever thought about trying to find either ideal best practices or processes for making benefit breakthroughs. Instead, the leaders simply repeat whatever methods they have used in the past to develop new offerings and to improve old processes.
As a result, helping business leaders appreciate that ideal best practices for making complementary, benefit breakthroughs are important will be a primary task for these tutors. I believe that success in getting the point across will depend, in many cases, on providing direct experiences with using such ideal best practices to identify and to implement complementary, benefit breakthroughs.
Providing such experiences will be a challenge because leaders won’t want to spend much time learning. I suggest tutors develop workbooks based on ideal best practices that can be used to quickly identify and to revise existing methods to be closer to ideal breakthrough-creating processes for high-profile activities such as developing more profitable offerings, improving performance where customers are dissatisfied, and obtaining more profitable customers.
After capturing business leaders’ attention, tutors will be tempted to simply provide lists of ideal best practice solutions and processes for each type of benefit breakthrough, to segment the lists by their appropriateness for each industry, and to leave business leaders to adapt each item on the lists into specific solutions. Ah, how I wish it were that easy to help leaders turn descriptions of ideal best practices into near-ideal activities.
Most business leaders would be baffled when they began thinking about what to do with such ideal best practice information, feeling as if they were lost without a pencil to connect the dots of information into a meaningful picture of next steps. As a result, I suggest that tutors create more complete and flexible documentations of implementing such practices than have been previously provided for any other business processes. Let me explain more of what I mean.
Tutors will need to take into account that peoples’ minds approach thinking about how to apply ideal best practices in many different ways. A small percentage of thinkers can take a limited number of examples, extract the common principles for themselves, apply the principles to their own situations, plan how to implement what they have in mind, and lead their organizations to smoothly implement the plans. Another small percentage of thinkers are able to take a principle that someone teaches them and to see how it applies to their own situation. Some other thinkers can plan to use their plans to accomplish anything, but they cannot come up with any new ideas even after being presented with ideal best practice descriptions. Similarly, the remaining thinkers can only conceive how to accomplish just some of these steps involved in progressing from seeing an example to achieving breakthrough results.
As my observations suggest, almost all business leaders will have trouble with taking at least one of the leadership steps required for creating near-ideal practices. Those who are stuck in their thinking will sit unmoving, much like becalmed sailboats without engines waiting for someone to tow them back to their moorings. Tutors can best overcome such stalls by providing easy-to-use descriptions of what to do next in almost all circumstances.
In providing such descriptions, I suggest that tutors assume that some business leaders will either connect the leadership steps in a different order, will use fewer steps, or will use some different steps. While preparing to describe ideal best practices, it will be helpful to identify as many steps as possible that business leaders frequently use or could use for ideally making each type of benefit breakthrough and to link the steps together in unconstrained sequences.
Let’s look at some examples of how such unconstrained documentations might be created. Children often enjoy reading stories where each page ends by presenting the opportunity to pick one of two choices, such as the formats used in the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. Based on which selection is made, the reader turns next to one of two different pages in the book. Regardless of the route taken, all readers eventually arrive at a story ending that logically follows from exploring what interested them most. In the process, the story is enlivened and enriched by taking the reader’s interests into account. I believe that a similar approach would be helpful for describing how to apply ideal best practice process steps for achieving each type of breakthrough.
Instead of employing a fictional story that leads one child to read about battling dragons while another child chooses to read about walking on top of rainbows, ideal best practice documentations might permit one business leader to start by reading about how to apply a practice to the company’s situation while another leader could, instead, read first about describing to stakeholders the logic of employing the best ideal practice. In this way, each business leader could follow the route of greatest personal interest and comfort from among a large number of options to create a uniquely effective learning process.
Here’s an example of applying this concept for business leaders. While I was in business school, I had an opportunity to see such a form of descriptive materials that had been written by a team at the Sterling Institute (a training firm then based in Boston that was founded by Professor J. Sterling Livingston of the Harvard Business School). While reading those materials, I experienced joining a new company, becoming acquainted with a lot of different people in the organization, developing relationships with them, performing work assignments, seeking promotion, and eventually preparing to go away on vacation. A piece of paper came across my desk that suggested the possibility of something being ethically amiss, and I was given the choice of personally digging into the problem or just happily heading off on vacation. I selected the former choice, and the materials helped me to appreciate there was a serious problem that needed my immediate attention. As you can see from my description, what I read was designed to encourage more ethical behavior, but I didn’t know that when I started the reading.
Another valuable lesson emerged for me from this experience: I learned to pay more attention to little clues concerning whether or not all is well. This lesson has served me well many times, and I’m sure that others who were blessed by having a chance to read the materials gained similar benefits.
In encouraging such a flexible way of describing how to use ideal best practices, I’m sure that parallel kinds of descriptive work can be done in a variety of more powerful formats. For instance, the materials could be provided online or in recorded digital form to include videos of people applying and discussing aspects of the ideal best practices. Such videos could help eliminate a lot of the ambiguities involved in reading descriptions of something a learner hasn’t yet experienced.
Regardless of what format the experiences are described in, I’m suggesting one key difference from the examples I have shared: The end of each page or segment should provide as many choices as possible for what to consider next … rather than just two. As a consequence, there may need to be some brief linkage sections prepared that smooth the transitions between steps that aren’t often connected in that particular order. For instance, most business leaders will want to focus on selecting the right people and encouraging them as one of the last steps for implementing an ideal practice. If, instead, a business leader starts with that step and then wants to go to a step involving choosing ways to improve customer satisfaction, the linkage material might discuss how important it is to adjust methods of encouraging stakeholders to be aligned with what provides customers with more valuable benefits.
Despite lots of hard work, much testing, and good intentions, it’s likely that some business leaders will still get stuck while trying to implement ideal best practice solutions and processes. Rather than either frustrate them or lose their interest, I encourage tutors to provide virtual access to problem-solving materials such as frequently asked questions, more detailed examples, and additional videos, as well as to highly knowledgeable, experienced people who can talk the business leader through whatever the issue is.
Where personal contact is needed to help business leaders learn, I urge tutors creating the descriptions to encourage business leaders who have succeeded with making similar breakthroughs to volunteer to speak with a limited number of learners. The back-ups for those leaders should be drawn from among the most experienced professional tutors, a group that I describe in Chapter Twelve.
In addition, I want to prescribe that tutors continually improve their ideal best practice descriptions through carefully measuring how effective the descriptions are in engaging the interest of and informing business leaders to effectively create practical applications. The more things that are measured about the use of the descriptions, the more the learning will be improved. Be open to obtaining all kinds of information, including testing the need to change the terms such as “ideal best practice” to something else. It may well be that the term, “ideal best practice,” isn’t clear or appealing to a lot of business leaders who aren’t engineers, and some other term would better help these people to understand. Remember that it isn’t what we call the information that counts, but, rather, what the results are from using it.
Let’s now shift our attention to identifying other types of complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs to add to the recommended sequence for businesses.
Identify Other Types of
Complementary, Exponential Benefit Breakthroughs
That Should Be Added to the Recommended Sequence
I will lift up my eyes to the hills —
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
— Psalm 121:1-2 (NKJV)
Developing and implementing complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs are among the newer activities being conducted by the 400 Year Project. My experience has been that the project’s newest activities rapidly evolve and improve in highly beneficial ways for many years. As a result, I believe that there are many other types of complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs that should be added to the recommended sequence provided in this chapter. It may also be that other benefit breakthroughs should replace parts of the sequence. I’m open to all possibilities for ways to obtain more benefits from making breakthroughs.
As each business becomes more fruitful for His purposes, God is able to use its people to accomplish still more. As this improvement process continues through breakthrough after breakthrough, I know that new types of benefit breakthrough opportunities will eventually be revealed whenever God is satisfied that businesses have been prepared by His tests to accomplish even more for His purposes.
These observations about new benefit breakthroughs are based on my experiences with receiving knowledge about the complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs businesses should make and their optimal sequence. The current sequence was revealed to me soon after I prayed to receive more wisdom to serve Him.
I strongly advise and encourage tutors who want to work on identifying other types of benefit breakthroughs to also pray daily for more wisdom in this regard. In addition, I believe that prayers for more faith and love are also going to be helpful. It’s not enough just to be wiser. A wiser Christian may still lack the confidence that faith brings to proclaim something that secularly focused business leaders won’t initially welcome. Even with the right knowledge and a warm reception, there’s great potential to be ineffective through unloving acts and words (see 1 Corinthians 13, NKJV, for a wonderful reminder of what the Apostle Paul had to say on this subject).
Let me also share a few thoughts about the role of optimism in locating more types of complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs for business. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit working in us. Many people only equate this spiritual connection to receiving guidance about right and wrong, the workings of a Godly conscience. There’s another important aspect to the Holy Spirit to consider:
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-15, NKJV)
As you can see, we also receive communications from the Holy Spirit based on the knowledge of our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. Although we can know little on our own, by cleansing ourselves through repentance and listening carefully to the Holy Spirit, we can know what God knows. Isn’t that terrific? God surely knows of vast numbers of complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs that different businesses could easily accomplish. Just imagine how much more we will be able to do for God when we have gained and applied more of His infinite knowledge.
Each time that the 400 Year Project seems to have reached a high level of accomplishment that could not possibly be exceeded, God has revealed something exponentially more wonderful to someone involved in the project. I liken such enlightening experiences to climbing a mountain on a sunny day. The higher you climb, the more area of the landscape below is revealed.
This perspective based on the project’s experience is yet another reason that I am optimistic that vastly more is yet to be understood and applied about benefit breakthroughs. Unlike a physical mountain, the potential heights that God can take us to are infinitely greater, yet are invisible to us. We could be currently just starting to climb up the first small foothill of a spiritual peak that’s a million times higher than Mount Everest and not begin to appreciate the potential God wants us to grasp with His help. Keep that image of unseen opportunity in mind, and I think you’ll have the right kind of optimism for searching out new complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs.
Finally, then, let’s consider the best ways that tutors can help to train business people to make each type of complementary, exponential benefit breakthrough.
Train People in For-Profit Organizations
to Make Each Type of Breakthrough
And He spoke a parable to them:
“Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?
A disciple is not above his teacher,
but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?”
— Luke 6:39-41 (NKJV)
As the beginning of Jesus’ parable beautifully captures, tutors who intend to train others need to begin by examining themselves to see if they are prepared to be a good example for learners and by asking God to show them where they need to improve. I encourage tutors who want to provide this kind of training to begin each session by rereading the parable aloud and asking learners to lovingly challenge them whenever the tutors are being hypocritical or not setting a good example.
To be a good example in this regard, let me share a few of the worst weaknesses and failings that I’ve found in myself and that the Holy Spirit has pointed out to me when I’ve taught business people about making complementary, exponential benefit breakthroughs:
• Not first preparing myself to feel as much love as possible for the learners.
• Not putting enough time, attention, and effort into becoming acquainted with the learners.
• Being more interested in following my plans than in finding out what the learners want to accomplish and are thinking.
• Not doing enough to interest learners.
• Engaging in verbal competitions with learners about who is right and who is wrong.
• Not showing respect to learners who have views different than mine.
• Not being interested enough in hearing about and commenting on learners’ experiences.
• Not being flexible in adjusting the learning format to reflect learners’ characteristics and preferences.
• Not engaging learners enough in conversations as a means to help them stay focused.
• Being inflexible about the learning pace.
• Employing too much jargon.
• Making materials that are too complex.
• Not being patient enough when a learner takes a lot of extra time.
• Not appreciating the time and effort learners are putting into studying with me.
• Not praising learners enough for what they accomplish.
I would also like tutors to consider how wide the benefit gap is between someone who effectively learns how to make breakthroughs and frequently does so and someone who never helps create a breakthrough. In considering this enormous gap, I like to imagine that each learner God provides to me is a potential Einstein who can transform much of what we know and think in exceptionally helpful ways. Because Einstein did not learn the same way that most people do, his unique thought processes led his early teachers to conclude that he wasn’t very intelligent. As a result, Einstein mostly had to teach himself. Had someone been flexible enough to adapt to Einstein, who knows how much more might have been accomplished by his studies?
Drawing on that perspective, I aim to feel excited by any learner who has a different idea, question, or thought process than mine. I increase my expectations for what might be accomplished by any learner who takes a different approach, appreciating that the learner has provided me with a great gift by taking the time and making the effort to consider the subject in an original way. What a blessing!
I have also learned through making many mistakes that tutors need to keep checking on what learners have and haven’t understood and applied. To do this, assign small tasks for demonstrating knowledge of and skill in applying what has just been introduced. If you have just a few learners, you can ask each one to verbally share a little of what came out of the assignment. If you have a larger group, you can put learners into subgroups of two, three, or four to share what they did and to ask questions about areas where there may be misunderstandings. After you reconvene from small subgroups into a larger group, ask if anyone feels lost or uncertain about anything that was just covered. Hopefully, some brave soul will then seek guidance concerning something where the whole group is confused. While asking, it’s good to share a story about a time when you were confused about something and how you now wish you had asked for clarification.
I also favor giving people physical exercises that exemplify the lessons. When strong metaphors are experienced in the body, a deeper level of understanding is often created. Let me describe one of my favorite exercises for helping people appreciate what it’s like to make a breakthrough.
First, I close my eyes and cover them with my palms so it’s clear to the learners that I cannot see. Next, I spin around in both directions until I don’t know which way I’m facing. Then, I ask the learners to tell me how to get to a spot in another room. I ask them to be careful in doing this so I don’t fall or hurt myself.
There’s a lot of confusion and silence at first. Then three or four people start speaking at once in contradictory ways. I ask them to provide just one direction at a time. They talk more quietly among themselves. Eventually, one person provides an amended version of the first instructions. I follow the direction with as much confidence as I can display. At first, I will usually hear people grabbing chairs and desks to pull them out of my way. After a bit, the directions become more accurate, the speakers sound more confident, more people get involved in leading me, and the process goes faster.
At some point, a near-accident will occur and someone will shout, “Stop!” When that happens, I might feel as if my face is just three inches from running into a wall. Why? People don’t walk straight forward when their eyes are closed. People giving instructions assume that I will always go straight, being fooled by their ability to see where I’m going.
In less than seven minutes, I find myself at the destination. The learners are pleased because they succeeded while being in charge of directing me.
At that point, I direct them to pair up and to do the same exercise with one another. I encourage them to take turns directing one another for the next twenty minutes. I also tell them to stay away from crowded areas and stairs, and to remain in sight of me. I spread them out in the beginning so they are less likely to run into one another. If there’s one person left over, I work with that person.
At the end of the exercise, I tell them to come back to the classroom where we discuss what was learned. They describe how scary it is to trust a stranger to get to a destination they cannot see. They also describe how hard it is to give good directions.
I then ask them why they think I gave them the exercise. The learners usually have no idea. I explain that the experience is a metaphor for making breakthroughs. When you begin, you have no idea of how to get to the goal. You will have to rely on the help of lots of people to get the needed information and to do the necessary work. There will be false starts, but in the end you can trust that you will arrive. There’s another part of the metaphor, which is to learn how hard it is to direct people to help you and your organization make breakthroughs.
I also find it’s very helpful to keep learners’ morale high. One way to do this is to share lots of brief examples of people making impressive breakthroughs who have less education and experience and fewer resources than the learners do. I interject these stories at different times depending on my sense of when learners are starting to lose confidence or energy. Whenever possible, I use examples drawn from one of my books to encourage the learners to read more on their own. Examples that demonstrate the value of being curious and taking action to test possibilities seem to work best for helping learners understand how they need to change their thinking and behavior.
Let me expand on that point just a bit. The intellectual difficulty of conceiving of and implementing a breakthrough isn’t usually very substantial. The emotional challenge of overcoming complacency to learn what’s really going on and what could work better instead is quite difficult.
I also invite former learners to speak to my classes. New learners are usually quite impressed by how rapidly the former learners have made improvements. At the same time, the new learners have no trouble seeing ways that the former learners could do a lot better. I also point out missed opportunities. The former learners benefit from hearing the reactions, and the new learners gain confidence by seeing how many opportunities they can perceive that the former learners didn’t. In addition, the new learners get a sense of the kinds of thinking and activities that lead to success, especially the ones they are reluctant to do.
By helping learners isolate their bad thinking habits through contrasting their behavior with what’s needed, it becomes easier for them to change behavior. One excellent method is to give weekly assignments and then to ask learners to share publicly how much of the assignments they got done. Some will do a great deal of work and others will arrive with elaborate excuses along the lines of “the dog ate the homework.” I try not to embarrass anyone, but I do ask the person who did the most to explain what she or he did. The others usually stare on in amazement when they realize that very little effort was required other than being self-disciplined and getting an early start. At that point, learners appreciate important lessons about themselves that will make them more effective in doing future assignments.
Finally, I make myself available by e-mail at any time to answer questions or to help learners reorient themselves. Most don’t take advantage of the opportunity, but the ones who do usually need the help. As a result, learners are able to get onto a firm learning foundation without experiencing any personal embarrassment.
While I could share many more lessons, I don’t want to become overly prescriptive. I’ll stop here. Tutors are likely to develop better approaches than I use, and I would like to encourage that result. I look forward to reading about those improved approaches and to learning from them.
Businesses, nonprofit organizations, governments, and voluntary associations often rely in part on highly trained independent professionals such as accountants, best-practice researchers, consultants, and software developers to assist them in improving their effectiveness. Chapter Eleven describes how these professionals can be more fruitful for the Lord while conducting their practices.
Copyright © 2011 by Donald W. Mitchell. All rights reserved.