A Gem from Tom Zender – No Problems? Create Some

No Problems?

No problems? Create some in 7 easy steps

No problem. Everything in the business seems calm. No trouble in sight. Things seem to be running themselves. Sit back and relax. In the meantime, there is a fire in the foundation. And you do not know about it. Ignorance.

The velocity of business continues to accelerate. Things can go wrong at a much higher speed than before. Remaining oblivious to constant shifts in products, processes, and people is an opening to oblivion for your business. Wake up.

Kodak, American Airlines (the original company), and Blockbuster. What do they have in common? Read on.

No problem in sight

All three companies played “business as usual” and failed:

Kodak ignored digital photography, even though they had invented the first digital camera. They refused to let go of their brick and mortar film processing business.
American Airlines ignored competition, including better managed USAir, who acquired bankrupt American and kept the name “American Airlines”).
Blockbuster ignored the possibility of distributing movies via the Internet. Netflix grabbed the opportunity and showed how to do it.
Many other businesses, large and small, have coasted out of existence in a fog of “not knowing.”

7 ways to create problems (if you do not have any)

Ignoring any and all aspects of a business is ignorance in action:

  1. Ignore innovation – do not foster creativity, reward it, spend on it, hire people who are good at it, or make it a high priority. Exclude it from your culture. Some competitor will take care of it for you.
  2. Ignore employees – meet with them only when you must, never ask for their opinions, pay them at substandard rates, show no interest in their personal lives, and do not let them know what is happening in the business.
  3. Ignore cash – fly financially by the seat of your pants, do not read cash flow statements, just believe that sales equals cash, don’t worry about excess resources, above all never ask for a cash flow projection.
  4. Ignore marketing – fixate on sales and hope that they continue, kid yourself and think that marketing and sales are the same, assume that your products are so good that they will sell themselves.
  5. Ignore organization – stop hiring good people and go for mediocrity, put a hold on all training, do not offer performance incentives, allow your facilities to deteriorate, and micromanage everyone.
  6. Ignore strategy – forget planning or only do it annually instead of continuously, act as though you have unlimited resources, unlink your actions from your goals, assume that there is no competition.
  7. Ignore fundamentals – just let your vision, purpose, mission, and culture drift. Then you won’t have any, or you will have too many – which is just as bad. And, do not bother to set goals. It is too much work.

If you have ignored everything successfully, you will not need to worry about the business – because you will not have a business. Retired.

The bottom lines

No problems? You can create some by simply ignoring the business – until you no longer have a business. Better yet, always be looking for challenges and you will find some. Then solve them to build a better business. Do it quickly – the market is moving.