August 2011

Ask The Consultants- Eliminating Problems 2

 

The game we are playing in my business is creating powerful performance. I keep finding myself dealing with crisis and breakthrough at the same time; it seems that some aspect of our infrastructure or culture or both limits our capacity for consistent performance. How do we make the switch to being high performing always?”

Well, in short, the answer is: You don’t.  There is an old adage that goes, “there is one way to stop having problems in life – die.”  And dramatic though this is, it does point to an understanding of life that is valuable and carries over well to business.  Problems do not end, we just get new ones. True mastery is in being able to choose your problems.

In business, we tend to produce the results that we manage for. In our experience, the greatest volatility comes from the combination of striving for high performance and managing for consistency.  It is a little like taking on the project of building a marvelous house but only measuring the foundation. Consistency will only take you so far and no farther. Instead, it is wise to notice where your breakdowns (crises) occur.

Are they persistent; meaning the same type of breakdown happening repeatedly (we call this a chronic breakdown)?  Or are the breakdowns new each time?  If the breakdowns are in new territory each time, congratulations – you are stretching the limits of your company, and the breakdowns are a sign that you are expanding into new territory.

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Ask The Consultants- Eliminating Problems 1

The game we are playing in my business is creating powerful performance. I keep finding myself dealing with crisis and breakthrough at the same time; it seems that some aspect of our infrastructure or culture or both limits our capacity for consistent performance. How do we make the switch to being high performing always?”

Thanks for being in communication. Let me address your first question right away: You don’t. Breakdowns happen. If you’re running a business with the standard and expectation of 100% high performance all the time, you are setting yourself up for frustration and upset. Can a team be reliable for extraordinary performance more often than not? Yes. Can you create a system that effectively predicts impending breakdowns such that you’re not repeatedly blindsided, leaving that experience of being in “crisis”? Yes.

But as far as counting on or expecting all good all the time, I’d recommend against it. In this respect (and many others), business is like life; there are going to “problems”.  So far as I can tell, the only place to be to avoid having problems is six-feet under. No more problems then! All handled. Same in business: being an entrepreneur is risky. Life is risky and business is risky. Period. The question is not one of getting rid of problems, but choosing which problems we will dedicate ourselves to. And don’t worry, there are plenty to choose from! It’s your life, your business, your choice.

If you really look, you may find the operating premise “I should always get what I want, when I want it” running in the background- not even as an actual thought necessarily, but as a place that your thoughts, emotions and behavior come from. It’s a context: the world shows up inside it, and we operate from it- without even seeing that it’s there. It seems to be there for all of us, from VERY early on in life, and still has that infantile quality to it. Just picture yourself when something doesn’t go how you want it to go. Whether it’s getting stuck at a traffic light, or a major sale falling apart at the last moment, look at the reaction: frustration, sadness, anger, maybe even a tantrum? Why? Because obviously everything should go how you want it, when you want it to!

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