Take the Business Tool Fadaholic Test

Last Updated Nov 17, 2009 9:49 AM EST

Here's a quick quiz. How many of these 10 acronyms do you recognise, and how many can you explain?*

(1) ABC (2) BPR (3) 7S (4) TQM (5) JIT (6) VBM (7) PIMS (8) NPS (9) MBTI (10) QFD

(Answers at the bottom of the post.)

If you can name five or more of these terms, and understand how and when to use them, chances are that you enjoy working with new tools and techniques in your work. If you know all 10, I would begin to speculate that you are a fadaholic.

Some managers look to new tools and techniques to give them the answers to all their organsiation's problems. These are the fadaholics; management's early-adopters who are determined to seek out the latest techniques for improving business performance.

The danger for these managers is that they focus on the method first and foremost, not the results they are trying to deliver. They wield their new-found knowledge as a hammer, and soon everything becomes a nail.

Look at the Balance Scorecard®. In essence, the scorecard reminds you to look at metrics other than sales, costs and profits when running your business. But, when it came to prominence in the 1990s, it was quickly promoted as the answer to improving the performance of all organisations.

There is no one best way, however. Last week, for example, I hosted the Morgan Cross Strategy Directors' Forum. We had a great group of strategy directors from some of the UK's leading companies, and our guest speaker was Staff Engstrom from Carillion.

Staff led a discussion on driving value from acquisitions and it quickly became clear that very different approaches could work equally well.

The keys to success for these organisations were to:


  1. Have a very clear view of their strategic objectives.
  2. Know what success looked like for each acquisition.
  3. Have an approach to delivering the acquisition benefits that managers from across the business understood and bought into.

In short, clarity and alignment around results were more important than the specific methods and tools deployed.

Different organisations have different norms, different beliefs and different values. It is tempting to transplant an apparently 'best way' of working and simply apply it to your business, but the risk is that it doesn't fit with the way your company operates.

Eschew fadaholicism. Instead of concentrating on trying to find the latest and 'best' method, spend more of your effort clarifying the results you wish to achieve and gaining alignment around their delivery.

In the end, that's the best way to increase your chances of success.

*Answers to quiz: (1) Activity Based Costing (2) Business Process Re-engineering (3) Shared Values, Strategy, Skills, Staff, Style, Systems, Structure (4) Total Quality Management (5) Just-In-Time (6) Value Based Management (7) Profit Impact of Market Strategy (8) Net Promoter Score (9) Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (10) Quality Function Deployment.

Did I miss any? write your comment below.

(Pic: lisibo cc2.0)

  • Stuart Cross

    Stuart Cross is a founder of Morgan Cross Consulting, which helps companies find new ways to drive substantial, profitable growth. His clients include Alliance Boots, Avon and PricewaterhouseCoopers.