Sunday, 29 May 2016

Start in the Corners

As many companies approach their fiscal mid-year it is not uncommon to pause and evaluate how they are doing against their objectives.  They determine whether or not changes need to be made to the strategies that they implemented some months ago.  The companies that do this best are the ones that start in the corners.  Let me explain.

Some years ago I spoke with an executive consultant who had broad experience in the Far East.  He said that manufacturing in some countries was more difficult than others because of cultural practices. This is the example he described.

In country A, when it came time to clean the house the process started in the middle of the room.  Diligently, the dust and dirt was neatly swept into the corners where it was out of sight. 

In country B the process was in the reverse.  Cleaning started in the corners and the dirt was swept to the middle of the room.  From there the dust pan removed it outdoors.

To the unseen eye, both rooms were clean.  It was only when the windows or doors were opened and the wind blew in that the difference was noticeable…the consequences clear.

If your plans are not working out as anticipated, don’t look at the issues in the middle of the room.  More often than not, they are only symptoms of the problems. Instead, look behind the curtains and in the corners of your room to find the fundamental flaws in your plan.  Bring that which is unseen out and into the open for critical review. 

It may prove difficult, even embarrassing, to acknowledge that you did not start with a `clean` slate that was capable of supporting your ambitions.  But until you address these underlying issues, nothing that you try to do will have a reasonable chance of success.

Do you have the strength of character as the leader to admit your error and clean the room properly?  Or will you continue to push the dirt to the corners, out of sight, until revealed by the breeze which inevitably blows through.

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