Do you ever find yourself looking for some magical answer to all of your business problems? Often when businesses are underperforming, owners or managers start looking for that one program or fad theory or what we often call the silver bullet to solve all of their problems.
It’s important to recognize that there is no magic solution to business problems. Reengineering, total quality management, budgeting for results, activity based costing and a host of other programs have been introduced to the business world only to meet with very mixed results. Many times, businesses buy into programs like those mentioned hoping that they will replace the fundamentals required to successfully manage and grow a profitable business. The bad news is that it won’t happen. Millions of dollars are spent each year on programs that leave owners and managers perplexed as to why they didn’t have the impact they had hoped for. These programs can have a positive impact on organizations that are fundamentally sound. They won’t really help businesses that have a shaky foundation of management fundamentals in place.
These organizations, to varying degrees, have a difficult time just managing day-to-day activities. Attempting to assimilate a “silver bullet” program into the organization requires time away from putting out the fires that are sure to arise from marginal management practices. This tends to merely compound the problems the business is experiencing.
It is important for businesses to first examine their fundamentals. Or as we sometimes refer to it, their blocking and tackling. For those of you who enjoy sports analogies, think about a football team that is fundamentally weak at blocking and tackling. These two tasks are the foundation for success on the football field. When a football team can’t block and tackle well, there is little chance of stopping the other team or scoring touchdowns. The same holds true in business. Think of managing people, functions and projects as blocking and tackling. If a business does a marginal to poor job in these areas, there is little chance for long-term success.
Sure we can all point to organizations that are successful in spite of themselves. They have found a strong niche and are making solid profits without sound management practices. But what happens when the economy turns down or the nice little niche the firm has carved out no longer is as viable as it once was? Without a solid management foundation in place there is little chance that an organization caught in this predicament will fight through it. We see this happening almost daily.
Before agreeing to bring any comprehensive packaged program into the organization, make sure that the basics are being handled well first. Then feel free to implement programs that make sense for the organization. There are incremental benefits to be gained from many of them. But the point of this Brief is to emphasize that these programs will not replace sound management practices.
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