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There are thousands of books published on how to run a better business. The problem is how do you tell what’s useful from a passing fad. The ideas are sometimes brilliant and often useful, but they have little staying power because managers are too busy to absorb or apply them as effectively as the inventors’ hope. As Joyce, Nohria and Roberson say in their book, What Really Works (Joyce, Nohria, Roberson, Harper Collins, 2003), “Nothing is less enduring than yesterday’s half-nibbled panacea.”

So, what really works?

Few if any of the most successful managers can tell you much more than what worked for them. But such advice doesn’t translate well. It is derived from local conditions and unique situations. The work of Joyce, Nohria and Roberson on the other hand is based on a systematic, large-scale study of the practices that create business winners called the Evergreen Project. It is based on a massive research project conducted with scientific rigor and verified by measured fact.

The result of the Evergreen Project is the 4+2 formula. Eight management practices – four primary and four secondary – that directly correlated with superior corporate performance. Winning companies must achieve excellence in all four of the primary practices plus any two of the secondary practices – hence the 4+2 formula.

The study started out investigating 200 practices but found a clear and compelling correlation with success and eight general areas of management practice. The four primary areas are strategy, execution, culture and structure. The four secondary areas are talent, leadership, innovation and mergers and partnerships. The study found that the link between 4+2 practices and business success was astonishing, A company consistently following the formula had a better than 90% chance of being a Winner. It’s not the only way to go but it stacks the odds heavily in favour of success.

What do the Evergreen Project results mean for managers? In short, a business must run full speed on six tracks at the same time to win and a single misstep on any of them can be fatal. That is why it is so difficult to be a long-term, consistent winner. The good news is that the 4+2 formula is not a myth, not a theory, not a mere notion of how to get from here to there. It is a proven set of approaches that tells managers precisely where to focus their efforts and where not to.

Canrock Asset Advisory can help you implement the 4+2 formula. We have deep expertise in these eight critical areas of management practice. We look forward to telling you about our experience but more importantly we look forward to hearing from you on what you would like us to do to help you implement the 4+2 formula.

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