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Small Business Digest


Firms Need To Concentrate Resources On Functions That Make Difference

Companies are missing opportunities and wasting resources because their managers are not focusing upon critical success factors for key corporate activities, according to new research by Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas.

“In many sectors competing businesses offer similar products and services, employ similar people, use similar processes and systems and are advised by similar consultants. Yet if we examine an area such as purchasing or pricing, or creating and exploiting know-how, we find that some businesses are much more successful than others,”
Coulson-Thomas argues.

“Companies are devoting considerable resources to initiatives and activities that are not critical success factors. In many cases important success factors are not explicitly recognised and addressed. Successful and unsuccessful individuals and groups in the areas we have examined behave very differently. Quite simply, the most successful have more of the critical success factors in place and adopt more of the winning ways we have identified.”

He adds that this concept is good news for companies: “Most of the critical success factors are behavioural, and even the most successful teams in the top quarter of the league table of accomplishment are only very effective at less than half of the success factors we have found in key areas. There is enormous scope for improvement as further success factors can usually be adopted without the need for ‘management of change’ programmes, or initiatives to get people to change their values and beliefs.”

His latest research suggests most companies could achieve performance improvements relatively quickly. Coulson-Thomas explains: “People don’t jump out of bed each morning eager to get to work and fail. They want to succeed. Once a better way of working is explained people instinctively identify with it and quickly embrace it. Many companies would benefit from focusing upon getting the basics right for competing and winning.”

Coulson-Thomas’s research concentrates upon identifying critical success factors and what high performers do differently in areas that are vital for corporate success.

Details of reports presenting critical success factors can be obtained from and

Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas has advised the boards of over 100 companies on how to improve board and/or corporate performance.


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