“I don’t have enough time in a day to work on the most important things!” I regularly hear CEOs complain. We all have a tendency to jump on the most urgent problems – because they are urgent and also because, let’s face it: we are addicted to fixing problems.
The issue is: when we focus on fighting fires we don’t work on what really helps move our business forward. A year quickly goes by and we realize that we have missed some of our goals. There is a key to break this vicious circle though.
“Who cares about our Core Purpose?” I thought when I joined my first company. “Isn’t a core purpose just a few vague nice-sounding words in an employee handbook?”
I couldn’t have been more wrong! As the company grew, growth pain points became more and more visible.
“My company has great growth potential, but I am so stuck in the damn dailies, I can’t find time to work on my business,” sighed the 55-years old CEO of this mid-market manufacturing company. He started his company 15 years and successfully grew it – but over the past few years, growth had stalled. His efforts to re-boot his growth engine have failed as well. In short, he felt stuck. How can he un-stuck himself?
When your car’s tires have an alignment issue, it is not only difficult to stay on course but it wears your tires without noticing. The same is true for your company. If everyone isn’t aligned to the same goals with the same strategy — if someone is pulling a little bit more to the right or to the left—you won’t stay on course and you will end up wasting a lot of resources.
Each time the New Year rolls around and I sit down to do my annual resolutions, I reflect back to a lesson taught me by a remarkable teacher. In my mid-20s, I took a course on creativity and innovation from Rochelle Myers and Michael Ray at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and I kept in touch with them after I graduated.
One day, Rochelle pointed to my ferocious work pace and said, “I notice, Jim, that you are a rather undisciplined person.”