Many managers spend too much of their time trying to find the absolute best way of doing something. Yet, if you focus more on results, chances are you will find a reasonable way of achieving them.

Yesterday evening, for example, I had the pleasure of hosting the Morgan Cross Strategy Directors’ Forum. We had a great group of strategy directors from some of the UK’s leading companies, including Alliance Boots, BAe Systems and Balfour Beatty, round the table, and our guest speaker was Staff Engstrom from Carillion plc.

Staff led a discussion on driving value from acquisitions, and although ‘Chatham House’ rules apply to the Forum, 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, and
  3. Have an approach to delivering the acquisition benefits that managers from across the business understood and bought into

In short, clarity and alignment were more important than method.

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

Instead of concentrating on trying to find the ‘best’ method, spend more of your effort clarifying the results you wish to achieve and gaining alignment on a reasonable way of delivering them. That way, you’ll increase your chances of success.

© Stuart Cross 2009. All rights reserved.