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Firing On All Cylinders

The Clifton Review 


The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.

While the 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story, his incredible business success over these past fifty years and an inside look at how he did it, The Clifton Review will also continue to address current affairs as they relate to the good of The Bahamas.


Firing On All Cylinders

By P.J. Malone

How does the idea of ‘firing on all cylinders’ relate to business and why should business leaders care? Let’s explore.

Individuals who have worked with fashion mogul Peter Nygard have said that watching him at work on a project insisting on perfectionism on every level could drive one crazy; but once you see the results of what he was trying to achieve, you can’t help but think, “This man is a genius!”

Being a perfectionist can be good in the eyes of some and bad in the eyes of others. The challenge is that when you work with individuals who are not trying to be perfect in their performance, it frustrates everyone concerned. However, being a perfectionist can have major payoffs for a business.

For Peter Nygard, being a perfectionist meant every area of his organization had to be performing optimally. This attitude yielded great results for his business. Nygård’s insistence on perfection resulted in the alignment of organizational structures, processes and systems in a way that guaranteed its success. 

One way to think about what organizational alignment means is to think about the term ‘firing on all cylinders.’ If a car isn’t firing on all cylinders, it can’t move as efficiently and effectively. To operate efficiently and effectively, all of the car’s systems have to do what they are supposed to do and connect with each other in a way that makes the car run properly.

It’s the same with organizations: If organizational systems and processes are not all lined up to work toward the business goals, it hampers the organization’s ability to achieve them, or at the very least, slows down progress.

For business people who may wonder if focusing on this concept of organizational alignment is really that important to their business, consider this: In a Harvard Business Review article entitled “How Aligned Is Your Organization?” Jonathan Trevor and Barry Varcoe explain its significance:

Most executives today know their enterprises should be aligned. They know their strategies, organizational capabilities, resources, and management systems should all be arranged to support the enterprise’s purpose. The challenge is that executives tend to focus on one of these areas to the exclusion of the others, but what really matters for performance is how they all fit together.

Consider McDonald’s. What does it take to be able to serve over 1% of the world’s population — more than 70 million customers — every day and in virtually every country across the world? Fanatical attention to the design and management of scalable processes, routines, and a working culture by which simple, stand-alone, and standardized products are sold globally at a predictable, and therefore manageable, volume, quality, and cost. 

Maximizing economies of scale lies at the heart of McDonald’s product-centric business model. Efficiency is built into the design of its winning organization in the form of formalized hierarchies of performance accountability, a high division of labor, routinization of specialist tasks, and teamwork at the point of sale. McDonald’s has been the market leader in its sector for decades. (

The point that they are stressing is that McDonald’s can be as successful as they are because, as they suggest, all of the areas of McDonald’s business is properly structured and managed to work together as a whole in achieving McDonald’s business goals.

For small businesses, aligning your organization can seem like a daunting task and yet another thing that has to be done in your business. Unfortunately for small business owners, it is representative of the adage, ‘a man’s work is never done’.

We will continue to study the success of Peter Nygard and present the practices and principles he used so that we can help small businesses apply these to boost their levels of success.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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