…or just keep admiring your problems
(One of the 83 quick and practical life & work lessons from Sh*t Sandwich: Quick & Practical Success Lessons for Practically Anyone.)
Execute Before You Are Executed
The difference between high performance and failure for most companies can come down to a very simple management choice: execution versus discussion. In straightforward terms, execution is getting something done; discussion is talking about getting something done. It’s not hard to figure out which of these two creates a high performance culture in the workplace.
When we over-discuss problems, issues and opportunities, we tend to exaggerate the obstacles and we eventually talk ourselves out of making a decision. Sometimes we’ve discussed an issue to such great lengths that we can be said to be admiring the problem. It is this admiration of our issues that leads to inaction and subsequent failure. No matter the economic climate, there is no place for inaction; no place for admiring our problems.
Interestingly, it is often the seasoned managers who tend to excel at discussing the issues; while more junior members of their team are usually foaming at the mouth to solve issues. The argument for born leaders falls flat when you discover corporate cultures that stifle innovation and cause senior “leaders” to retreat to the safe haven of avoiding decisions at all costs. (I use quotes around “leaders” because they’re not really leading as much as they are treading water to maintain a status quo.)
It’s nurture, not nature, playing the key role here. The will, desire, and drive we’re all born with is decimated by someone or something by the time we reach the executive offices. We got there because our boss, our boss’ boss, and our boss’ boss’ boss all got there the same way. They avoided risks, chose no decisions over potentially bad decisions, and they got along just fine.
It’s unfortunate that during good times we tend to reward everyone regardless of contribution. Moreover, we enjoy the comfort of “maintenance” and we tend to ignore metrics or trends that point to a need for change until it’s too late.
Perhaps, if when we turned 50, we had the same exuberance and wide eyes we had at 25, we would attack everything with abandon. The cruel paradox of business is this: we finally reach a position where we’re “allowed” to make decisions right around the time we’ve had the desire to change beaten out of us.
Relative inaction served business well in the last century, but no more. The list of previously solid companies that no longer exist is growing every single day, while someone with better execution and less discussion gobbles up their market.
Are you a leader at your business? Then stop discussing and start doing.