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Leadership Thought #263 – When You Have Something That’s Working, Stick With It


Change for the sake of change is never advisable.  All change should be rooted in some obvious reality that requires a shift in the status quo.  When you have something that is working stick with it.  This doesn’t mean you run it to the ground, but also doesn’t mean you abandon it too soon either.  In general, there are usually more things that are right rather than wrong with an organization unless of course it’s a crisis situation.  There should be many positives you can lean on and leverage for both short and long term benefit.

A leader should never become bored with success although I see it all the time.  Instead of riding the wave when it crests they feel compelled to shake things up unnecessarily before they get to shore.  It takes a self confident person to allow others to do their job well and let the operation work.  When I was younger, I was very much influenced by a football coach who used to say we start with handful of plays and stick with them until they stop working.  There is no reason to create complexity where none exists.  Until the market dictates otherwise keep doing what you are doing.

Don’t get me wrong.  Innovation is a good thing and we should always be thinking about ways we can operate better, but this shouldn’t be the primary focus of organizational activity.  Once you’ve created products and systems that work, let them work because this is where you make your money.  If your operations are always in a state of flux and your key people are constantly changing or being moved around, it’s hard to create the constancy and predictability that a business needs to maximize profitability.  Organizations that are working well have an easiness about them.  Everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing and why; it all makes sense.

The next time you feel compelled to fix or change something or someone ask yourself why you are doing this and is it really necessary.  What are your true motivations?  Is it about what is best for the organization or just something that’s caught your fancy and/or a need to feel like a vital contributor to the business?  Sleep on all major change decisions and avoid spur of the moment inclinations.  Always solicit feedback from those affected by the decision.  Weigh the pros and cons and factor in the increased costs (hard and soft) and the potential return on investment.  Challenge yourself to make economic sense.

I encourage my clients to think of building a business operation that runs like a Swiss watch.  Once they have a product that’s working well, the model doesn’t change very much over time except with minor tweaks as needed.   You can count on the product to do what is supposed to do with amazing accuracy.  Repairs are the exception not the norm.  Don’t chase the fads or fashions of the day because they just as quickly become obsolete or irrelevant.  Be smart but also be thoughtful rather than impulsive.  Think and plan for the long term.  When you have something that is working stick with it.

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