When a fire is raging, you have no choice but to work toward extinguishing the offending blaze.
But what if the smoldering coals finally go out and you suddenly see clearly and in front of you is someone laying kindling in a pile. And to his or her right, there is someone with a container of kerosene, just waiting to pour it on the pile and yet another person right behind, with a lighted cigarette, oblivious to the dangers of coming into contact with the other two.
Every day in business this same scenario plays out over and over again.
The worst kind of mischief is the contribution of the various elements of a "business blaze" within your company.
No, this particular kind of mischief doesn’t look like kindling or kerosene or matches, but they are every bit as deadly to your strategy and your profitability.
You have all seen this kind of deadly mischief. Here are some of those that we've observed firsthand in our client companies:
- THE IDEA KILLER - You are in a meeting and someone throws out an idea. As quickly as they finish their sentence, someone chimes in with “We’ve already tried that and….” .
- ABSENCE OF STRATEGIC PRIORITIZATION - You need to get some development done that will greatly reduce customer frustration with your product and lower the number of calls to the call center. You are told that the work is “in the queue” and it will be “x quarters” before it is available.
- PROCESSES THAT KILL BUSINESS – You need to get approval to make a minor change to a contract that the client has requested in order for you to get the business. Your legal department takes a week to get the minor change reviewed and approved and in the meantime, the client has gone with your competitor.
- ANALYSIS PARALYSIS - You have a great idea and miraculously, it makes it past the idea killer. But everyone and his brother in the company gets involved in the analysis of the opportunity. A huge study is commissioned and by the time that it is all done, everyone is convinced that the market conditions may have changed, so they launch into another round of analysis and more research and on and one it goes (or not...).
- FIRE FIGHTING CULTURE - Every day you come in, vowing to spend time on strategic initiatives to build the business. But every day, you are presented with fire after fire and by the end of the day you have all of them under control, vowing that tomorrow will be different. It never is, because all you ever do is react.
- NO PROGRESS, NO PROBLEM - You have just spent (wasted) another 8 hours in meetings and at the end of each meeting, you spend at least 10 minutes coordinating calendars for the follow up meeting. No one has time to actually do any work, because everyone has a full calendar of meetings and conference calls.
We could go on and on, but instead, we will launch a new series on each of these and will make sure to incorporate the antidote to these types of mischief in the coming days.
MK and Chicke
Partners in Mischief (the good kind)