We all know the story of the hare and the tortoise. What amazes me about this story is even though the hare quite clearly had the capability of being the first across the line by a long way, his lack of focus cost him dearly. A tortoise shouldn’t be able to beat a hare.
In his book, How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins studied the rise and fall of several companies to understand why, despite their apparent outward success, they were inwardly failing. The lessons are very similar to that of the hare and the tortoise. Those companies that went into serious decline were often distracted by “the next best thing”. The key characteristics causing the decline were as follows:
• Entered new markets with big dreams of achieving significant profit margins.
• There were changes in personnel who wanted to stamp their authority on the business so wheeled in significant changes.
• They often ignored their core business as this was perceived as boring instead favouring new or diversified products.
When we experience bad news or a poor period of trading, we can often overreact by looking to overcorrect into other areas. In order to ensure the long term success of our business, it is important that we remain true to our core business principles and are not distracted by apparent “easy gains”. Unfortunately, we can all fall into this trap and it is very important that we have people around us who will confront us when they see this happening and hold us accountable to what we stand for and where we are heading. Accountability is often used in a negative sense i.e. that we need to hold someone accountable for something they have said. To me, accountability means holding someone accountable for their ability. This means that we see the best in them and will do whatever it takes to see this realised.
Have you become distracted from the key principles in your business? Have you got people around you who you have given permission to ask the hard questions, perhaps when you least want to hear them? I believe this is as important in your business as it is in the companies Jim Collins studied in his book.