A Modest Grand Theory

Albert Einstein, after his world-shaking General Theory of Relativity was published, validated, and accepted by the scientific community, spent the remainder of his life working on a Unified Field Theory that attempted to boil all physics down to one elemental formula, hopefully as elegantly simple as his earlier stroke of genius – E=mc2.  While he never achieved his Grand Theory, I fully understand his desire to distill complexity to simplicity.

On a far humbler scale, I have also been impelled to boil the seeming complexities of hospitality operations into a smaller number of principles that when followed would lead to organizational success.  What I’ve come to believe is that there are four basic requirements for any successful organizations.  They are:

  • Leadership – the skills that permit those who direct an enterprise to win the enthusiastic support and efforts of their followers to the accomplishment of specific goals and tasks.
  • Organization – the ability to structure and integrate the complex and interrelated programs and processes of the enterprise to promote efficient operations.
  • Management Disciplines – the ability to consistently implement generally-accepted requirements and best practices at all levels of the organization.
  • Hiring Well and Training Thoroughly – the programs and disciplines that cultivate the attraction and retention of the best talent, as well as consistent, efficient, and professional completion of all tasks and engagements with members.

Having outlined these four requirements, I would go on to say that they are all supported by one key element and that is discipline.

While complex business enterprises require both broad and specific skill sets for success, these mean little if each individual and the corporate group as a whole don’t have the intense and overriding discipline to focus daily on the essential tasks at hand and complete them as efficiently as possible.

Complex enterprises may be based on sound management ideas and theory, but without, as Jim Collins says, “disciplined people taking disciplined thought and engaged in disciplined action,” they will never build enduring greatness.  In other words, despite whatever talents your management team may possess, without discipline you’re just muddling through.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking managers throughout the country and around the world.

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