Can N+1 be applied to business?
For those in the know, the N+1 rule in cycling is something most of us live by. There are many unofficial rules of cycling that most keen riders tend to follow both on and off the bike. Velominati (the keepers of the cog – News, blog and forum for cyclists) list the N+1 rule as #12:
Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.“While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned.”
While of course this is a tongue in cheek statement (honest!), there are a number of key reasons that so many people do, in fact, aspire to owning another bike almost as soon as they have started riding the one they have just purchased.
For some, it is the allure of marginal gains in performance, be it through weight, rigidity, aerodynamics or just all out speed. For others, it is just about the bike – the allure of its form, new technology and construction techniques, colours and graphics. Nearly all will cite changes in theoretical use as a key driver to justify the next purchase…think about the emerging use of disc brakes, more sportive-style geometry, the introduction of suspension flex in frame technology and so on. While this may seem a flimsy argument to some, the performance benefits are real, and the genuine change of use and technology is key to these improvements.
You will already see from this pattern of behaviour that these are common thought processes in the business world, particularly when looking at the drivers involved in purchasing technology – both hardware and software.
Many modern businesses acquire new technology on a regular basis, be it service management, CRM, marketing automation or another key process area. They think nothing of buying the next solution, often with crossover functionality, but with that magic ‘other theoretical use’ cited as the key reason for the purchase.
Marginal performance gains are vital for businesses that are looking to maintain competitiveness in ever-changing markets. The key, as with the rule of N+1, is that businesses need to focus not just on the latest and greatest innovation, but also on which technology they will actually use and which will truly take their business to the next level.
The key for both the cyclist and for the business is not to get seduced by the ‘shiny’ and to focus on the real benefits of any change or upgrade. Do your homework. Evaluate all the benefits, advantages and disadvantages before taking the plunge.