That’s Retail - More or Less.

It’s a very simple game retail. As Gordon Segal from Crate and Barrel USA says – “It ain’t rocket science, but it burns as much fuel.” It is relentless and it does take enormous reserves of executional energy to be successful and to keep being successful.

Maintaining success as we all know is harder than becoming successful. It requires diligence in what is known as a “continual improvement process”.

In simple terms, continual improvement in retail is a game of “more or less”.

a) How do we drive more sales dollars; and
b) How do use less time, energy & cash to do it

Like all the best processes these should become embedded into “business as usual”. A continual improvement process for your business starts with an annual deep dive into business strategy. This may involve the much under-appreciated S.W.O.T. analysis and a performance scorecard marking you to market on critical attributes of your business and Key Performance Indicators.

These KPIs would include “more or less” items.

You set strategy, business goals and objectives annually, at the same time as formalising budgets. You review your “more or less” performance progress at least quarterly (if not more often) and create re-forecasts and tactical plans with them. As part of this process you should be constantly on the look out for new ways of achieving “more or less”.

Strategy may be a fascist discipline, but execution is collaborative and good teams know how to uncover gains in “more or less” because the insight comes from close monitoring and involvement in execution. Strategy comes from insight but it doesn’t deliver insight. Observing execution and the results of execution is what unveils insight.

And improvement is fuelled by insight.

“More or less” – more often than not – is uncovered (in the field) from execution. Performance reviews and continual innovation is most powerful when it can be embraced by the people who do the execution work, in a formalised process that pushes the insight back to wherever strategic and tactical decisions are made.

Simple really. All your collaborative teams should be regularly involved in a search for more or less. Just by asking – “How do you think we could drive more sales and use less time, energy and cash?” will yield some surprising answers. After all, the people who do the work and deal with the customers can tell you the most about what productivity could look like.