Monthly Archives: September 2017

Are you in an adaptive state?

The world is changing all the time and we don’t work in isolation – we work with suppliers and customers, partners and competitors, laws and regulations making up our business environment.

Changes that affect the environment will affect us – and will have an effect on us.

We have to be alert to the changes as in every business there’s a need to adapt and adjust to the new circumstances.

Ignoring those changes, as many business leaders seem to try to do, is just storing up problems for the future. That’s pretty obvious if you think of laws and regulation where failure to adapt to the changes is likely to lead to a fine or even imprisonment for those who fail to comply.

We have all heard that ignorance of the law is no defence so we keep watch on those changes, but do you watch for other changes in the environment?

If there’s a change in your supply chain, are you ready to respond? Do you have multiple sources of supply for key items?

Whatever business you are in, technology is affecting it. Recently I was helping a membership organisation where they had failed to adjust their membership processes.  A few years ago, we would expect to submit an application to join a society through snail mail and then wait a week or so for the membership pack to arrive, but now we expect to apply online and receive immediate membership. The membership organisation had not adapted their methods and membership applications were described as “laborious”

If your competitor is introducing a new product, are you ready to react and provide even better service to your customer? Are you watching the market, or better yet leading the market!

There’s a book by Marshall Goldsmith – What got you here won’t get you there – and applying just the title to your business thinking will help you move to an adaptive state.

Don’t worry, be happy!

I see a lot of business owners and leader who find work very stressful.

I’m reminded of this quote from Reinhold Niebuhr:

“Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Business owners feel responsible for everything and everyone in the business, but they often worry about things they cannot change.

Worrying about the wrong things – those things you cannot change – does you no good, does your blood pressure no good and most importantly does the business no good!

If you’ve done all you can for the customer, you can’t change the decision they are going to make next week or next month.

If you’ve done the research and created the marketing campaign that you all think will work, you must try it to see if it will work. Worrying about it won’t change the outcome.

So what will your worrying do?

If you are worried, it’s like an infectious disease that you will pass on to the team. They will worry as well. If you are worried, you may not (will not) be focused on the things that you can change – where you will make a difference. If you infect the team with your worries, they won’t be focused, will second guess themselves, take longer and probably make more mistakes.

Taking longer and making more mistakes leads to an increase in workload. Extra workload can mean more stress and more worrying – it’s a vicious spiral.

The business leader who appears not to be worried takes away a lot of stress. The team look to the leader and if he’s not worried then we don’t have to be.

Think of the captain of a sports team, or a leader on the battlefield. They are confident and positive, not worried and negative. Sometimes that is just an act – they really are not confident, but they won’t let it show because that damages the team.

So ask yourself “Can I change this thing I am worrying about?” and if the answer is no, move on!

Perfection can be the enemy of progress

There are times when perfection must be achieved but also times when it is the enemy of progress.

If you have a product or service in development that is not yet perfect and you continue the development until you reach what you regard as perfection, you may just find the market has been taken from you by an inferior product. They call it “first mover” advantage or first to market advantage.

There is also a strong probability that the product (or service) is not quite what the customer’s want or need. You’ve used your knowledge and experience to build this, but if you don’t have customer feedback it is easy to go down the wrong road.

That’s an obvious example, but the same principles can easily be applied to your internal projects. I was responsible for the roll-out of a new IT hardware system. We were a relatively small company, and were not using IT professionals – it was mostly down to me. I had a plan for the roll-out but as with any plan, things did not work quite as expected! In this case, a printer that had worked perfectly in one environment decided not to work with the new system.

In the perfect world, I would have setup the printer and everything else in a test environment before deployment. I’d have found and resolved the problem. That would have taken an impractical amount of time (I had a day job, this was a set of additional responsibilities) and money.

In the real world, we deployed the new system and the printer failed. We could have reverted to the old system (that was my ultimate backup plan) but managed to find a workaround that let us operate. We had the new system running within the day, the operations and the customers were not hampered and the business could benefit from the new faster hardware.

If you’ve got a backup plan, and failure won’t affect the customer, roll out the project and fix it when you know what’s wrong.  If you’ve got a new product, get it to market in beta or prototype form. Don’t wait for perfection!