How to know your business is dying from the inside!
Are you stuck with stagnation? Are you making a lot of money from one client and extremely happy? Have you plateaued? Do you believe that new is not better? Do you see other companies in your industry latching onto ideas which seem far-fetched? If you answered yes to more than one of these questions it’s more than likely that you are suffering from some form of complacency than your work or company.
My family and I moved about eight months ago onto my wife’s family farm and into one of the farm houses located on the property. Have you ever been in an old house or your grandparents or some other individual’s house that they have lived in for several decades? These houses tend to have a dry, dusty, and stagnant smell to them. In scientific terms this has to do with the decay of the actual house as well as the lack of use which a house undergoes and the buildup of dust in corners which had previously been actively used daily. We moved into such a house. There was nothing inherently wrong with the house it just had a dry and somewhat musty odor. We vacuumed, shampooed, dusted, washed, and scrubbed. No matter what we did smell never quite seemed to go away. The other day I was thinking about this smell and realized it was gone; I could no longer smell it or even realize that ended ever existed.
This story points to the power of complacency! It also casts a light onto how businesses can become complacent even while admitting that such a thing does not even exist.
The most powerful concepts or principles related to complacency is that we seldom know when it’s happening to us. We have allowed ourselves to be drawn. In his article complacency kills (how to stay alive) Tom Menoza puts it this way:
People rarely think their team or organization has it. It’s easy to see complacency in others. It’s hard to recognize it in yourself. Tom speaks about urgencies.
So what can be done to combat something that is hard to see or detect? Addressing complacency and stagnation before it exists will make a world of difference but we may not always have this option. Try these three simple steps before, during, or after complacency.
Always be outward facing.
The word facing “outward” can be thrown around as a unique buzzword these days but implementing a true outward facing approach to your business will help you detect when you have run off course. Making sure that your client’s and customer’s opinions and points of view are thoroughly available and addressed. Allowing other companies and sometimes even your competitors critique what you are doing and how you are implementing a product or service into the market. Constantly analyzing the data available to you by these and other willing participants will help you see when you have begun to stagnate. Of course you can always bring in consultants or outside vendors to help in this process. Yet the first step is to use individuals and companies available to you on a regular and routine basis because of the unique perspective and relationship they hold to you and your work.
Having a clear and defined objective to fight against complacency can be accomplished by setting monthly or even yearly goals. Start by saying how you will measure your fight against complacency. What milestones will you use to indicate progress and the measuring stick to be implemented at the end? Goals in and of themselves are worthless unless they are implemented into the work of the business. Thomas Kucera put it this way in his post How to Make Smart Goals Smarter, “you should always consider impact on the rest of the organization and not just on your team.” The goals to fight complacency must be developed around the entire organization and not just one particular niche or area within the company.
Perhaps the best and most efficient way to fight against complacency is to develop habits. By developing habits to fight against complacency you will be able to implement long-lasting and effective change. If you want to make a real effective change in your business to eliminate or reduce stagnation I strongly recommend you read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. In Charles own words:
“If you believe you can change – if you make it a habit – the change becomes real.”
You must be taking regular routine fight against complacency. Whether you are a small one person firm or a large Fortune 100 Corporation, complacency must be actively addressed. For the small company, you can become complacent in your location within a given industry. For a large company, you can be sucked in by your success and allow it to insulate you.
Simply stating the need to take action against complacency will not make a difference. Action steps must be driven by outward facing activities, goals, and habits.
“The minute you think you’ve got it made, disaster is just around the corner.” Joe Paterno
I really appreciate that you are reading this post.