“So, just exactly how far out to lunch were you, when you made that decision?” I asked.
Clarence laughed. It was the first bit of levity around a decision that cost his company $125,000. “I know, I know,” he replied. “It was a pretty bone-headed decision.”
“Seriously, what did you miss?”
“I was so focused on the increased productivity we forecast when this new machine came online, that I forgot to ask some basic questions.”
“I assumed the concrete floor would support the weight of the replacement machine. There were plenty of signs to tell me otherwise, but I didn’t pay attention to the floor because I paid attention to productivity.”
“You’re making this painful. When we pulled the old machine out, there were stress cracks in the concrete underneath. I thought, after 20 years, they were just cosmetic. But, there wasn’t enough steel reinforcement in the pad to hold the weight of the new machine.”
“What did you learn?”
“Before you make a decision, you have to lay out – what is an assumption and what is a fact. I was playing paper, scissors, rock with concrete and steel.”
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You will never ever get what you want!!! You will only get what you focus on.
At first I am disappointed, because I really want what I want. And, it makes me feel bad to understand that I will never get what I want.
If I really want it, I have to focus on it.
“It is really hard to find good people these days. We just never seem to hire the kind of people we really want.”
YOU WILL NEVER EVER GET WHAT YOU WANT! You will only get what you focus on.
It’s not that you can’t find good people out there. You have not focused your concentration and energy to find good people. What does focus look like? Think about finding good people, talk about finding good people, have meetings about finding good people, plan a campaign to find good people. Roll out an action plan to find good people.
You will never get what you want. You will only get what you focus on.
There were twelve incredible opportunities staring at Roger, all of them saying, “Pick me!”
Once an organization gets some traction in their market, over the hump of cash flow and all that, the next biggest trap is the incredible opportunities.
As your company grew, everyone said, “You’ll never make it,” but your company did. Who is to say that your company cannot be successful at all of the other opportunities staring down at you?
Sometimes, the most important decisions that you make, are the decisions about what not to do. The growing organization needs to focus its efforts on becoming more successful at their core business. There will be plenty of time, later, to chase down that incredible restaurant deal or that mail order pharmacy company.
Disciplined focus, execution, not opportunities. Stay out of the trap.
“So, you’re the culprit,” I repeated. “What specifically did you do that was so counterproductive?”
“I remember, it wasn’t anything extreme. We have different sales channels and different product lines, with outside sales, inside sales, internet sales. I began to hand out bonuses for each department with the highest gross margin, another for the highest revenue in the quarter.
“It’s funny, now that I think about it, when I handed out those bonuses, the room was quiet. There was no jubilation or high-fives, just a nod and a polite thank you.”
“Tell me about the down-side?” I asked.
“I found out later,” Reggie explained, “that each department gamed the gross margins. They would pump up the pricing in the last week of the quarter and then rebate it back to the customer in the next quarter. In the end, we still got our standard margin, but each department manipulated the bonus system. And all the progress we made on cross-selling was lost.
“And it’s not so much that they had to pay the piper in the next quarter, but look at all the wasted energy, counterproductive to what we stand for. And the last thing on our mind was doing a good job for the customer.”
“You have two out of five manager positions in place on a daily basis, so when you have a problem, you fix the problem, but not the system,” I offered.
“So, the problem is fixed,” Derrick insisted.
“Yes, the problem is fixed, but the system is still broken. You are missing three of five Managers, so you are not paying proper attention to your systems.
“You see, Derrick, when you have a problem, everyone scrambles to fix the problem. Even experienced Managers put on their superhero cape and leap in front of their biggest customer to save the day.
“What your managers need to focus on,” I continued, “is the system. Why didn’t the system prevent that problem? Or at least mitigate the damage from the problem? Their role is to fix the system.”