What really works

I once saw a lecture by Nitin Nohria at Harvard on the subject of this headline. It was about research that he with colleagues had done on successful companies and their strategies. It cooked down to a few very simple rules, and if I were to condense them again, into one sentence, that would be to firmly connect strategies with practical work. I have thought about the essence of his lecture once now and then. How much of what you offer as a consultant is really necessary? The acid test is if you would do these things for yourself. I am not saying you wouldn’t but the question is healthy.

Generally speaking, what really works and what is really necessary? And what is that worth?

Soon it will be 20 years ago that I moved into a new apartment and one day I found my self in one of the second hand stores in Stockholm, where they sell used clothes and stuff for your home, that people have left for charity. I realised that I needed a few things for my kitchen, which was bigger than the one I had had before. So for example I could buy kitchen things you use seldom, if they were cheap, because now I had room for them. Among the kitchen apparel I found a lightly used strainer in orange yellow plastic. It cost 5 SEK, less than a USD. I already had a metal one, but this one was easier to clean so I bought it and started using it instead. Now, almost 20 years later I still use the same strainer, almost daily for washing vegetables, straining pasta etcetera.

As I use this thing so much, wouldn’t that be something to invest in, to buy something really good? Yes, but this one is really good. It’s easy to clean, it hangs safely on its hook, it makes no mechanical noise as a metal strainer would. It fits my sink. And it doesn’t wear out. I have even started to like the colour; it has been out of fashion so many years now that it will soon be hip! It wasn’t new when I got it; it’s still as new, it will last forever.

So from what I know now, 20 years later, its present value should have been like 500 SEK (70 USD) but instead it cost me less than a buck. This should be seen in perspective of the vast amounts I spend on gadgets, electronics and similar crap.

So isn’t everything fine then? Well, yes it is!

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