Killer Complacency

Change…. Who needs it!

Most of us would be happy campers if things would just STAY THE SAME. Sometimes it seems if we ignore a problem long enough then it will go away. Or we may look at a circumstance and say, “it’s not precisely what I’d like to see, but I guess I can live with it.” Surely this is easier than making a CHANGE. Ughhhh! Anything but change. Let’s “wait and see.”I see many entrepreneurs and small business leaders become complacent after having several successful years behind them. However, today’s economic environment, political situation and competitive landscape are shrinking profits for businesses nationwide. Dominant competitors are much more powerful, financially adept and possess more resources then ever before. Often times they can offer a similar product or service at a lower price. If we hold steadfastly to the ideals of the past and resist change, there is a good chance that our business will suffer severely.As entrepreneurs and small business professionals we can not afford to make very many mistakes. It is not enough that we recognize problems WHEN they occur. We must develop systems that help us to quickly identify signs of impending trouble. By doing do we will ultimately save our company long term problems and expenses in a relatively short period of time. We must be ahead of the curve. We must influence change BEFORE serious problems emerge. 
There are many reasons that business failures are at record levels, but I believe the primary reason is the inability or refusal to adapt to a rapidly changing economy. Studies show that more businesses fail or regress due to lack of attention to early warning signs then any other reason. The signs are almost always there. You do however, have to be willing and able to see them, accept their reality, and deal with them NOW! The major problem I see is that they are not perceived as “real” signs only short term problems that will be fine in a few weeks or months. They also may be seen as related to “uncontrollable or external factors” where nothing can be done, while the competition is being proactive to these same factors because they recognize that this is the real world and they still have to do business in it.A while back I was fortunate enough to take a cruise. Kathy and I marveled at the magnificence of the cruise ship. We decided to take the tour of the bridge of the ship and I noticed the officers hovering over some instruments and discussing something. When I asked our tour guide what they were doing he told me they were making a turn. Apparently in order to turn the massive ship they had to begin to negotiate the turn several minutes in advance. Our businesses are like that. If we decide to hire someone today, in all likelihood that person will not begin to be fully productive until two or three months. They will need to be trained, assimilate into the company culture, and become proficient. This is why knowledgeable, experienced management is so critical in small businesses today.I’m NOT talking about experience in an industry, product or trade but “decision making” experience. A demonstratable skill in making decisive, proactive business management decisions is at a premium today. Companies now run lean and mean and there tends to be a shortage of management, not an overabundance. Simply put, even if there are people on the payroll that are capable of solving the problem, they are usually bogged down daily putting out fires. They are almost always willing but due to time constraints not able. Important long-term projects always get back-burnered to current fire-fighting. This is unquestionably detrimental to the near and long term future of the company.We all have this feeling of infallibility. It can’t happen to us, maybe the competition, or all the people we read about in the papers and business journals everyday but not us. WE know what we are doing! But when we procrastinate making changes it leads to a decision delay that costs the company much more in the long-term then a positive (albeit difficult) decision would now. Often times the easy choice may not be the right one. This kind of complacency is the biggest killer.I hope this motivates you to take action by:

  • Removing complacency from your decision making process.
  • Becoming the catalyst for influencing change in your business.
  • Developing systems that allow the warning signs to become visible.
  • Getting outside, experienced management help early on.
Posted in Managing Change, Uncategorized.

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