Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Business Lesson from Jack Reacher

I am a big fan of the Jack Reacher series of novels written by Lee Child. The title character is a hulking ex-Military Policeman who resolves problems with a combination of intimidation and clever observation. So when the announcement was made that a Jack Reacher motion picture was in the works, I was excited. But when it was announced that Tom Cruise would play the lead role, I began to fret.

How could the 5'7" Cruise possibly portray the menacing 6'5", 240 lb. Reacher?  I worried that Hollywood was about to ruin another excellent book.

My fears were unfounded. Cruise pulls off the character flawlessly. As the books' author, Lee Child, commented, Jack Reacher's power does not come only from his large size, but from the presence he creates with his wits, intellect and aggressiveness. Despite his small stature, Cruise captured the essence of Jack Reacher.

There is a business lesson here. Size does not always matter.

How many of us have made business decisions based on the "safety" of a company's size?  It could be choosing a home contractor because they have more trucks, a law firm because they have more partners, or a "big box" retailer because they are, well, bigger.

But bigger is not necessarily better. A smaller business that approaches their work with intelligence, passion and energy can often provide a much better product, service or experience. In many instances, smaller companies are more nimble and responsive.

I resolve not to judge a business by its size, but to assess the potential benefits and advantages the company can offer by being smart, creative and focused.

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