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Business Well Done™

On the challenges faced by leaders of established businesses.

Messing stuff up

If you read enough glossy business literature, particularly the profiles of the Latest Awesome Business In A Cool Urban Loft Space, you might get the sense that the great business leaders have it all figured out ahead of time.

But in real life, there are just too many unknowns.  So the great business leaders mess stuff up.  On purpose.

They find the point where stuff breaks, so they know which assumptions are based on reality and which are simply untested.

Think of it as finding your footing.  You put some pressure on unproven areas.  Whether the surface gives way or holds, you now know what you really have to work with.

Sometimes you find the breaking point much nearer than you expected.  The untested assumption here is often based on callousness to customers or employees:

"Oh, they won't care if we double their health premiums.  They're just happy to have a job."

Sometimes you find the breaking point is actually much farther away.  Here the untested assumption is often based on We've-Never-Done-It-That-Way:

"We could never insist on those payment terms.  Our customers would instantly jump to the competition."

Maybe.

But you need to know.  So you take small risks.  You find that slice of customers or that minor product line or that operational process where you can mess stuff up... without plunging to your death.

Where would it be helpful for your organization to find the true breaking point?

Paul SchwadaComment