Just the Facts

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but no one is entitled to his own set of facts.

—James Schlesinger

Every year, respected business publications like Fortune, INC, and Bloomberg BusinessWeek rank (in seemingly endless ways) those companies that are doing the best job in their chosen industry or niche. We read about the “Most Admired” and “Most Innovative,” the “Customer Service Champs,” the ones generating the “Highest Shareholder Return,” the “Fastest Growing,” the XYZ 500, and the list goes on.

We can’t help but notice that in this blizzard of rankings and ratings the same organizations seem to take home the trophies year after year—companies such as Coca-Cola, Disney, Google, Southwest Airlines, Intel, and Procter & Gamble. We certainly don’t think that the frequency of their presence has anything to do with shortcuts that writers or editors of these publications take. No, there’s something else at work.

Outside the corporate boardroom, but certainly no less engaged in the world of business, lies the arena of professional sports. Here, too, there is a fairly short list of perennial overachiever teams such as the Boston Celtics, New England Patriots, and Chicago Cubs.

You’re still thinking about that last name, aren’t you? We were just checking to see if you’re awake. We can still hope for the Cubbies, though, right?

What we find among persistent winners in just about any labor-intensive endeavor is that an extremely high ratio of them also happens ...

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