Do you know what a SMaC recipe is and if so, do you have one?
SMaC stands for Specific, Methodical and Consistent and it is a concept developed by the business expert, Jim Collins.
He outlined it in his bestselling book, Great by Choice, explaining that one of the factors which distinguishes the most high performing businesses – those that outperform more than 10X their industry average – is that:
“They stick to the recipe that works for their organisation.”
What makes Collins’ 10Xers stand out from comparison companies is their discipline. The clarity and specificity of a SMaC recipe helps people remain religiously consistent so they maintain this consistency and high performance whatever the market conditions.
When faced with declining results, 10xers do not assume their principles and methods have become obsolete. Instead, they ask whether the business has perhaps strayed from its recipe or has forgone discipline and rigour in adhering to the recipe.
They ask, “Is our recipe no longer working because we’ve lost discipline? Or is it no longer working because our circumstances have fundamentally changed?”
Why introduce a SMaC recipe?
Introducing a SMaC recipe ensures your company business model and processes translate into repeatable, practical day to day operations.
A SMaC recipe is a set of durable operating practices which create a consistency and continuity, turning strategy into reality.
It is clear and concrete, and enables the entire enterprise to unify and organise its efforts, in order to give clear guidance as to what to do and what not to do.
It might have three elements, it might have 10, the key is to make them sure they are, as Jim Collins says, like the U.S. Constitution – both durable and practical, yet also amendable.
He says you can use the term “SMaC” as a descriptor in any number of ways: as an adjective (“Let’s build a SMaC system”), as a noun (“SMaC lowers risk”), and as a verb (“Let’s SMaC this project”).
Jim believes that being “SMaC” is a crucial way to maintain control in challenging market.
“The more unforgiving your world, the more SMaC you need to be. A SMaC recipe forces order amidst chaos. It imposes consistency when you’re slammed by disruption. Operating in a turbulent world without a SMaC recipe is like being lost in the wilderness in the middle of a storm without a compass.”
A business should set out the dos and don’ts (specific operating practices) that work and adheres to them.
Jim Collins’ research in Great by Choice showed that great companies and social enterprises change their SMaC recipe no more than about 20 percent per decade, so a key SMaC question is: What is the right 20 percent to change?
SMaC case study
He uses the example of Southwest Airlines’ SMaC recipe, which included:
- The passenger is our #1 product. Do not carry air freight or mail, only small packages which have high profitability and low handing costs;
- Stay out of food services;
- Utilise the 737 as our primary aircraft for 10 to 12 years;
- Remain a short haul carrier, under two-hour segments.
Over 25 years, the elements on this list changed only about 20 percent – despite everything from fuel price increase to air-traffic-control strikes, massive industry mergers, recessions, interest-rate spikes, the Internet, and 9/11.
Yet while consistent, the recipe also evolved in careful steps. For example, Southwest did eventually add flights longer than two hours. If Southwest had become rigid, close-minded, uncurious, never amending these points as needed, it would not have become a 10X case. However,
“what most stands out is how much of the list Southwest kept intact.”
SMaC is a recipe which forces order amidst chaos – particularly important over the past year, given Covid-19. What is your SMaC recipe?