The Hustle and Bustle Advantage

Hustle Bustle

Should your company be striving for the type of advantage that has become the hallmarks of Amazon, Google and Facebook? In the tech world, it’s hard to imagine success without quick and continuous technological improvement. But, in the frantic race for product or service superiority, another advantage is often overlooked – company culture.

It doesn’t matter whether you sell information or cremation, the right kind of organizational culture can bolster and sustain a company’s performance.

Intense Competition as a Fact of Life
Make no mistake; intense competitive rivalries remain a fact of life in most industries. How leaders address the challenge to create opportunities can be as different as night and day. For example, a great poker player does not play the game the same way as would an astute chess player. Business leaders of the poker ilk value quick, prudent, and confident decision-making. They understand the risk of each play, but unlike chessmen, they sacrifice strategic contemplation and negotiation to establish themselves as nimble paragons of tireless execution. As business leaders, these folks put the pedal to the metal to get the job done; they love the hustle and bustle of the game, and they expect to see it played with vigor throughout their enterprises. The result is a hustle and bustle culture that when properly leveraged delivers results day in and day out.

Companies that Hustle Get Results
Hustle companies deliver superior performance to thousands of customers, retailers, restaurants, and service organizations. California-based In-N-Out Burger chain epitomizes this quick and nimble culture. Unlike competitive fast food restaurants, they deliver the “fast” in the category’s nomenclature. In-N-Out Burger keeps it simple in order to deliver a great product, quickly. Their menu is limited to three beef burger offerings, fries, shakes and soft drinks. If you want chicken, salad, pizza or wraps, get out of the line-up to the counter and go elsewhere.

Equally nimble are some of the world’s most successful private label brand manufacturers. Store brands, particularly in the US are doing better than ever. In 2014, private labels generated $115 billion in sales, an increase of +2.5% over year ago – more than twice the gain of national brands. While In-N-Out Burger thrives on doing less, private label manufacturers prosper by doing more. They have to do more (and do it better) because the secret to success in this business is a wide array of products and packages in countless shapes, sizes, and flavors at costs substantially below branded competitors. This is just an entry chit into the private label industry. Success comes from the ability to satisfy America’s powerful retail chains with flexibility, service, pre-defined quality, all at the lowest price. This does not leave much room or time for these players to pioneer new technologies or develop their own brands.

Pedal to the Metal Mentality
Companies that thrive on a fast culture are obsessed with reducing costs and improving operations. They don’t use their precious time to strategically hypothesize or intellectualize. They map a course of action and hit the accelerator. From top to bottom, everyone knows what is expected.

These companies are known for their ardent attention to the details of day-to-day activity, but don’t for a minute think they lack far-farsightedness. Visions need not be so narrow that they are repressive. On the contrary, they are broad enough that employees who thrive on perpetual motion have the breadth to pursue and create wonderful new opportunities.

Do you agree or disagree with these insights? What else can you share that’s important to learn? I invite your comments.

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John Bell is the author of Do Less Better: The Power of Strategic Sacrifice in a Complex World. He is the retired CEO of coffee & chocolate maker Jacobs Suchard North America, best known for Toblerone, the triangular Swiss Chocolate bar. A prolific blogger, his musings on strategy, leadership, and branding appear in several online journals including Fortune and Forbes.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • susanmrushworth

    I have to confess this article didn’t appeal to me. It seems to prioritise a particular type of culture over others and that’s something I find very limiting. Each company will have its own culture and I’m sure that a sense of urgency and competitiveness is a feature of many successful companies, but the word “hustle” to me suggests a prioritisation of action over strategy and reflection (despite the author’s protestations to the contrary). Not to mention (and this may just be my English upbringing) connotations of pushing the legal boundaries.
    Not convinced, sorry.