From the Desk of Paul:

"What came first, the chicken or the egg?" 

To truly understand my comparison, we must first start with “the miracle of the egg” or, better yet, “the miracle of the whole egg."  Many modern-day dietary experts would contend that egg whites are wonderful in nutritional value, but the yolks should be avoided.  Just my opinion, but I think that has a lot to do with the sedentary lifestyles of most Americans today.  Most of the “experts” that we hear from through a variety of different mediums are really taking into consideration the difference in fat between the white (low fat) and the yolk (high fat) and the fact that most Americans are overweight – their solution, avoid the yolks!  Many nutritional experts would argue that the yolk has some significant nutritional value that the white doesn’t.  They would also argue that it would be better for a person to lead a more active lifestyle and eat both the white and the yolk to maximize the nutritional value.  It’s also amazing to stop and consider how often eggs (whites and yolks) are included as an ingredient in a recipe for something grander than just the egg itself.  Cakes, pies, batter for fried foods…ok, those are just some of my favorites, but there are way too many to list!  Then we have the eggshell, which may not seem appetizing; however, did you know that there is enough calcium in a single eggshell to meet ½ of the daily recommended amount for an adult’s diet?  Wow!  Just two eggshells, if you happen to be out of milk and cheese!  Ok, are you still not convinced you want to eat eggshells?  How about the value of the protection that the shell provides over the part that you would like to eat?  This amazing little miracle is a wonderful portion of good nutrition that is protected by a handy little case!  Not to be gross, but can you imagine how difficult it would be to harvest eggs if chickens laid them without shells?  That would be terrible!

Okay, now that we have established that eggs are a created miracle, how can we compare that to a great business?  I’m a simple guy, and I think of things in simple terms, so this shouldn’t be hard to follow.  Almost all businesses are made up of 3 major functions at their core:

  1. Sales/Marketing: can be summarized as the activities businesses engage in to communicate what services and/or products they provide to their clients and the act of beginning a transaction with the client.
  2. Operations: can be summarized as the function of the business's product and/or service delivery.  This could be providing a professional service, manufacturing a product, or even a product fulfillment function.
  3. Finance: can be summarized as managing the ingress and egress of money—accounts Receivables, Accounts Payables, Debt, etc.

Of course, most businesses can be divvied up into more parts than just these three functions, but most companies can be boiled down to these three essential functions.  When considering this, many “good” companies are good in at least one of these areas and, most of the time, at least two.  Companies that are good in only one of the three areas or less are generally not considered “good” companies.  Those companies that are strong in all three areas are, more often than not, “great” companies.  This seems simple in concept but much more difficult in practice, and it is.

One of the main reasons it’s difficult in practice is that business owners and leaders are willing to sabotage any chances of the company becoming great because they can’t get beyond their pride to be real about how these three areas stack up in their own company.  Why?  Perhaps it’s because to admit that an area, or two, or all three are weak would be considered admitting a weakness on the part of the leader.  Hmmm.  I think that’s why wisdom would say that greatness springs from humility.

So, about the egg, in and of themselves, all three parts, eggshell, yolk, and white, each have their own wonderful value; however, when put together, the value is much greater than the individual parts themselves.  As Aristotle is often quoted, “The whole is greater than the sum of all parts.” Businesses are the same in that sense.  When all three parts mentioned above are working together harmoniously and synchronously, then incredible outcomes will happen.  When all three are healthy and robust, it’s easy to see that there is a “great” business!

Let’s start with humility and look at our businesses' three major functions and determine whether each function is weak or strong.  Do all three parts work harmoniously and synchronously?  When we can achieve both, we’re running a “great” business!

Paul Meadows,