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Separating Busy-ness from Business

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One of the most challenging dilemmas for organizations is to find ways to break the cycle of being so "busy" that they neglect working on the very things that will strengthen them and secure the future.

Most organizations are aware of the tension that exists, readily acknowledge that delaying dealing with the issues can be costly or already is and yet choose not to change the vicious cycle.

Here a few examples from my own experience and that of my clients. Ask yourself how many look familiar.

"We are so busy growing we haven't worked on long-term strategy. We know we should but it is time consuming work."

"We know we are weak on bench strength in some key positions and are vulnerable if a key person leaves but we just don't have time to train or cross-train and ask people to do their regular jobs too."

"We need to do an employee satisfaction survey but there just doesn't seem to be a right time; if things are really good will we get an accurate picture or if they are bad will we get an accurate picture?"

"We keep having recurring quality problems in a particular area and now spend so much time correcting the problems that we just don't have the time to allocate resources to determine the root cause."

"We know that in some cases we are signing on clients that are not good business decisions but senior management or the Board of Directors want to see the revenues coming in so we don't do the screening we really need to do."

" We know that we often take on business before really defining the customer requirements but our sales people keeping bringing in the business and we don't want to slow things down. Sometimes we just figure out the requirements through trial and error."

"We know we have an erosion in customer satisfaction but we are so busy responding to complaints and problems that we can't allocate the resources to figure out what the key contributors to dissatisfaction are. Even then we aren't sure senior management will make investments where necessary."

As leaders the challenge for each of us to make a conscious effort to start somewhere in breaking these vicious cycles. Break the problem or opportunity down into small manageable parts when needed but start somewhere.

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