Two Certainties.jpg

Perhaps the most important model in my book, The Language of Excellence,  is the one for TWO CERTAINTIES. The term “death and taxes” in the flip chart image is often quoted as the two certainties in life voiced by Benjamin Franklin. The graphic pairs Franklin's common sense terms with the words “change” and “judged” because change and judged are better descriptions of the two certainties as faced by businesses. For deliberate long-term success, an enterprise must have an understanding and acceptance of the two certainties— (1) we either purposely change to improve, or natural forces erode and change us for the worse, and (2) what we are is determined through the judgment of others.

I wrote the The Language of Excellence as a teaching aid. I discovered by accident that when all members of an organization understand the implications of important management and leadership concepts, magic happens within that enterprise. It is as if someone pulls back the curtain and turns up the lights. Suspicions disappear, replaced by unity.

To learn about the behavior of change, to gain an understanding of the rule of the fewest, to be able to put a name to observed phenomena such as the life cycle and suboptimization tears down the iron curtain between “management” and “employees.” A team arises—a competent team, one that shares a core set of beliefs and a common sense of direction—eager to help write their own playbook.

I want to clarify that I claim no origination credit for the concepts in The Language of Excellence. They are a compilation of ideas collected, distilled, reshaped, blogged, and even tweeted during fifty years of on-the-job training and a lifetime of reading and listening to the great minds of business—people like Peter Drucker, W. Edwards Deming, Nancy Austin and Tom Peters. The use of graphics and trigger words that bring those visual images to mind was inspired by usability improvements contributed by icons in graphical user interfaces (GUIs), by the power of Tom Peters’s model of excellence, and by the effectiveness of Model-Netics, the graphic image-laden management training courses of American General during my brief tenure with the company.

The concepts inside The Language of Excellence, like the Two Certainties apply to life as well as business. The book is one of the best gifts one could give to a young professional. It can be invaluable to the entrepreneur starting a new business or to a seasoned executive frustrated by the difficulty of steering an unresponsive corporate ship.

The Language of Excellence teaches the skills for long-term purposeful success. The concept of the Two Certainties conveys that for that long-term success, you must learn to deal with and manage change, and you must accept that you and your accomplishments are what others perceive them to be. 


For more about The Language of Excellence at a discounted price for bulk purchases go to http://www.tomcollinsauthor.com/language-of-excellence/. For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. Audio versions of The Claret Murders and  Diversion are available from iTunes, Audibles and Amazon. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

The Power of "And" verses "Or" Thinking

I written about “The Genius of the AND” and “The Tyranny of the OR,” previously.  In fact, my last post on the subject still comes up on page one of a Google search.  Nevertheless, their importance in business and life warrant a continuing discussion.

To refresh your memory, In the book Built to Last by Jim Collins and Scott Porras, the authors noted that the common decision process is merely choosing between two or more choices—it is an “either/or” process. For example, shall we minimize cost or maximize quality. It is an approach that “…pushes people to believe things must be either A OR B, but not both.” That dampens the imagination, limiting the possible.

On the other hand, what distinguishes the truly remarkable leader and organization is, in the words of the authors, “The Genius of the AND.” Groundbreaking individuals and organizations have replaced the traditional OR approach to decision making with an AND approach—for example, rather than choose between low cost or high quality, they ask, “Why not both?” “Why not give our customers both the highest quality at the lowest cost?”

An interesting exercise is to consider the “Or verse And” issue as it relates to Peter Drucker’s concept of Management Judo. Peter Drucker identified five weaknesses that the larger competitor is likely to develop.


  A "not invented here" attitude is likely to make the competitor slow to take advantage of new ideas or lower cost methods. The "Creamer" concentrates too long on the higher profit, upper end of the market, leaving the door open to enter the market through the lower end.  The “Premium Pricier” begins to believe that their size entitles them to over price the services they provide. Failure to stay in touch is likely to result in the company emphasizing its idea of quality or features ("Wrong Quality") leaving the customer’s real wants unsatisfied or the product price too high.  The "Maximizer" keeps adding features to satisfy added market elements, leaving the door open for the Niche Company that will provide a simpler or lower cost product or service that just addresses the needs of a particular market segment. Understanding Drucker’s weaknesses means that you can use your larger competitor’s size against them to your advantage.  Or, looking inward you can reduce the occurrence of these weaknesses within your firm.

In addition, it is useful to look at these five weakness as the byproduct of “OR” decision making and strategic thinking. Contrast the single-track, “Or”, mindset that leads to each weakness to the dual tract, “And”, approach of Steve Jobs at Apple.  Given the choice between robust complexity and simplicity—Steve Jobs insisted on both, complexity and simplicity. Given the choice between utility and beauty, Steve Jobs chose both.


"Almost 60,000 Overdose Deaths in 2016; Largest Annual Increase in American History"—Department of Justice 

Coming Later This year.

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.