When doing nothing is the winning strategy.
“Well if you guys would do your jobs, we would have a chance,” Carl yelled at us all. Our high school football team had lost several games in a row. We were making mistakes, not executing well, forgetting our plays, losing our concentration, just not working together at all. There was lots of finger-pointing, name-calling, and enough blame to go around. But how bad was it, really?
Surprisingly, over the next few weeks we would win all of our games. Suddenly, the criticisms and finger-pointing went away. All of the things we were doing badly seemed to disappear. All the criticisms that we were hurling at each other turned into praise and support. What a difference a few weeks made.
Why The Change?
What had happened? Why were we doing better? What magical leadership or organizational strategy had been implemented? No one cared. We were winning, and nothing cures losing like winning.
The best thing that happened was NOTHING. Our coach felt the team was capable, our game plans were good, we had what we needed to get the job done. So, he did nothing…that is, he didn’t make any wholesale changes. We did go back and review the basics and practice those (blocking, tackling), refine and improve them — the things everyone is supposed to know and do all the time — but nothing really different or special. He encouraged us to keep working hard and improving individually, take responsibility for our own role on the team, and we would see success. He was right.
When we were losing, there really was nothing wrong. The team just needed time to gel, to work with each other, and continue to improve individually. All we needed was more time, not a new plan. Often in business, when things aren’t working, we quickly try to jump in and “fix it.” This can make things worse. So, before you go changing your gameplan, firing/hiring people, implementing a new strategy, consider whether any action is required at all. You may have the right people, the right plan, the right client and market. It might just be that you need a little more time. Nothing may be wrong.
Encourage your team to keep working and learning, improving in their individual roles. Review your plans and strategies and make adjustments, if necessary. But don’t fix something that’s not broke.
If you find, after more time has gone by, that things aren’t working, then do take measures to identify the critical problems and address them.
But you may find that things start improving, that you start winning, and all those issues you saw previously have disappeared…”BECAUSE NOTHING CURES LOSING LIKE WINNING!”
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