I remember a situation from several years ago when a team I was working with decided to analyze mall-based store performance. Our stores had not typically been located in shopping malls, but we had recently expanded into that channel. We were trying to find the magic answer as to why some of our new mall-based stores were doing well and others were not.
We looked at every possible variable we could think of, including shopper traffic in the malls, in-line versus kiosk store, store location within the malls, anchor stores in the malls, local population demographics around the malls, geographic region of the country, etc. No matter how we sliced the data, we could not find a consistent correlation between any one variable and store success.
The reality is that some people always find a way to be successful, and others do not.
So, we started to talk through the dynamics of each store that was performing well. We started at the top. As we talked about the best-performing store, it became clear that we had to consider it an outlier since it had such an amazing full-time salesperson. We came to the same conclusion about the second best store, and the third best was also an outlier because of the outstanding manager who was running it.
Frustrated that the top-end outliers were hampering our analysis, we decided to start from the bottom. We determined the worst performing store was an outlier because of the weak manager who was running it, and the second worst store was an outlier because of the weak full-time salesperson.
Voila! Our magic answer was revealed! The reality is that some people always find a way to be successful, and others do not. The key to superior performance is to have more of the former on your team and less of the latter.