Same – Different


Not everyone is special.



SAME-DIFFERENT forces a group to ask itself “how much do we need to standardize?” and “how much should we customize?” Every business faces this ‘optimization’ dilemma. McDonald’s standardizes much of its operation across various franchises. GE standardizes financial reporting and HR policies but allows various divisions to customize the balance of their operations. Both companies are successful because they found the right balance for their specific business.

What about your business? What parts should be same and different? Be intentional.


Ask stakeholders which of the three images best represents the group’s current situation. Question which items are considered unique, and whether there are opportunities to move “differences” in the “same” box. The more there is in common, the greater the opportunity for collaboration among stakeholders.


SAME-DIFFERENT is best at determining the question “Is standardization appropriate?” Keep in mind that this is a RIGHT VS. RIGHT dilemma; different companies can determine different levels of standardization are necessary, yet all can be successful.