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Keep it Simple


John Chisholm on July 24, 2010 in Advice for Business Owners

I attended the 2010 Wisdom Exchange in May. Wisdom Exchange is organized by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and Innovators Alliance. The Wisdom Exchange is a resource for Ontario’s business leaders to share knowledge, learn best practices and make valuable networking connections.

One of the presenters was Charles Knight, Chairman Emeritus and former CEO of Emerson, a global electronics manufacturer with their head office in St. Louis. Emerson has over 129,000 employees and net sales in 2009 over $20.9 billion. Mr. Knight was CEO at Emerson for 27 years and won renown for keeping alive the company’s remarkable record–43 straight years of earnings increases. He shared some insights from his recent book Performance without Compromise.

The Emerson philosophy of management is to identify and successfully implement business investment opportunities that supported the growth and profitability of the company. Mr. Knight referenced Peter Drucker in keeping it simple.

  1. Set tough targets
  2. Develop plans and the programs to achieve them
  3. Constantly follow-up
  4. Pay for the results

This requires enormous discipline. Simple plans, simple communication, simple organization – no bureaucracy!

What struck me was that this simple straightforward philosophy is used by such a large company – and it works!