Phil Jackson, legendary pro basketball coach and proclaimed Zen master, was a true innovator with his development of the Triangle Offense. His triangle offense is based on the strategy of leveraging a “two-man” game. Jackson used the triangle offense while coaching both the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers winning more than ten World Championships.
Today, the triangle offense is working in business, too, under a similar strategy. The business triangle has three axis points – revenue growth (A), profit growth (B), and service (C). Your business will reside along one of the three lines between these axis points:
- A + B – revenue growth and profit growth
- B + C – profit growth and service
- C + A – service and profit growth
The position along these lines represents the focus of your business and the implications. The business along the A + B line focuses on revenue and profit growth. The implication is that service will be secondary or sacrificed for revenue and profit growth.
The business that focuses on profit growth and service will not have revenue growth as its primary goal, and the business emphasizing service and revenue growth will forego profit growth as a focus.
Where does your business reside?
I know all three of these areas are important, and that we can and should pay attention to them all at once, but where your emphasis lies has specific implications.
For example, a business with the revenue and profit growth model will provide a lesser level of service due to the cost to profitability. In this approach, the business will need a strong business development capability to offset the reduced service and the potential turnover of customers. Costs low (service), revenue high, and profits high.
The example of revenue growth and service will require an investment in both business development (revenue) and service, which will reduce profits.
Finally, a business focusing on service and profit growth will not invest in new business development as a priority, but rather it will depend on organic growth and customer loyalty. The risk here is the loss of a customer and the ability to replace them.
Can a business change paths?
A business can change their focus over time. During highly competitive markets like today, a business may focus on revenue growth and service to assure they are adding to the customer base and retaining existing customers. Growth may occur through acquiring greater market share or an opportunity that others have yet to recognize. This approach will likely reduce profit growth. This requires a good business development approach and commitment to succeed, as well as, a solid service model to keep customers (and your team) happy.
Now the market improves, more customers start opening their doors to you with greater opportunity. The business can move from a revenue growth and service focus to a profit growth and service effort because the availability of new business is greater and less expensive. New business development, while still important, is less so when new customers are now more readily available. We still want to service our customers because the cost to replace them is high. Putting a greater focus on profitability assures that we are leveraging the investments we made in more demanding times, and that they are paying off now and not being wasted.
The triangle principle is simple and direct. The implementation and implications are complex. There in lies the magic or skill of Zen.
I would love to learn what you think of the triangle offense.