Successful entrepreneurs are never satisfied with the status quo. Entrepreneurs who become satisfied are soon no longer successful. Even if they are the best in the world, the innovations and improvements by others – creative destruction – will inevitably make them obsolete. Entrepreneurs who continue to be successful always drive creative destruction themselves.
A principled entrepreneur envisions what could be accomplished when proven principles are fully applied. At Koch we seek to close the gap between what we are doing, however good, and what we could be doing if we were fully applying our principle-based framework. The application of these principles enables us to continually see additional opportunities for improvement and growth for ourselves and Koch.
Closing gaps is more than benchmarking. Benchmarking is the process of measuring our performance against those known to have superior practices and performance. It is useful to learn from others and identify performance gaps, but we also must compare our actual performance to what we believe is possible. It is relatively easy to spot gaps when we are not performing well. But success can be particularly difficult to overcome because it makes us overconfident and complacent. Instead, we should be humble, open to the fact that no matter how well we are doing we can always do better, and learn what is possible and how we can improve.
Supervisors must foster a culture that encourages experimentation and discovery, building knowledge networks and pursuing hunches about where we have gaps. This helps us avoid the natural tendency toward stagnation and decline. This can be done by using the five dimensions of Principle Based Management™ to regularly discover gaps in our methods and results. Effective use of technology and data can also greatly enhance our ability to gain new knowledge and insights that stimulate opportunities for improvement and growth.
A restless discontent, fueled by a vision of a better state and a belief that such a state can be realized, spurs never-ending cycles of improvement and transformation for employees and the company.