Fortune: “The New Rules of Business”
Fortune's “story” here is that Jack Welch’s rules are wrong, but the writer from Fortune has seven new ones that are right. Let me say from the outset, this sort of thing drives me nuts. I would call it “autonomic business writing,” meaning it is a story which writes itself—and has the depth to prove it.
The problem is not with whose rules are right or wrong. The problem is with the use of the words right and wrong themselves. Anybody who spends any time actually doing business—as opposed to autonomically writing about it—knows that it is the most situational of all human activities. There is a time for Jack’s rules, and a time for the Fortune rules, and the real skill is in diagnosing the situation so that you apply the appropriate rules at the appropriate time.
Touting in isolation that the customer is king (Wow! I bet Jack never thought of that!) is just plain twaddle. Implying that the shareholder is no longer relevant is also twaddle. And so it goes. Niche is better than mass? Well, yes, for some situations. By the way, the author is thinking primarily of consumer-oriented volume operations business while Jack was running a conglomerate of primarily enterprise-oriented complex systems businesses. Very different rules for each.
Our culture's fixation with rules isolated from context (remember Trout and Reis’s Twenty-two Immutable Laws of Branding?) is testimony to H.L. Mencken’s great aphorism: For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.