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May 30, 2009

The Parthenon Principle

During the Persian War, the building on the Acropolis of Athens was burned by the invading Persian forces. Following the war, which ended in 479 b.c., the Athenians began rebuilding their city, which culminated in the construction of the Parthenon, the greatest of all Greek temples of the Classical Age. Dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom and patron deity of the city of Athens, the Parthenon stood more or less intact for some 2,000 years until the middle of the seventeenth century, when it was partly destroyed in a war between the Turks and the Venetians.

The Metaphor
The career or business you are building is as important to you as was the Parthenon to the Greeks. It took many years of painstaking planning and excruciatingly hard work to affect this magnificent temple. The same is true of your own business. A level of commitment that was quite extraordinary was essential to the ultimate success of the Athenians' undertaking. No less is required of you. Like the Parthenon, your career or business is also supported by pillars, each of which is central to its integrity and its survival. The Parthenon was "built to last." So too, your career or business must be based on rock-solid principles.

The Principle
Imagine the result of a small increase in the strength of each of the supporting pillars of the Parthenon. As each is strengthened, it will affect the robustness—the durability—of the structure. Clearly, a small change in each pillar will give rise to a large change in the overall structure. The same is true of your career or business. This gives rise to what we call the Parthenon Principle.

Incremental Changes
Consider the human body. It has several systems—pillars, if you will—each of which supports the body. Improve one and the overall health of the person improves. Improve them all by just a small amount and the individual will experience a significant increase in health, energy, and vitality. Similarly, your business or organization consists of several foundational systems, all of which are interrelated. In our coaching program, we consider seven core systems or pillars: sales, services, pricing, promotion, referrals, productivity, and profitability (i.e. cost controls). As with the human body, an improvement in any of these systems will lead to an improvement in the overall health of the organization or your business.

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