Some questions that need to be asked on a regular basis are: Are my customers happy and do they need me? Am I leading a group that is more concerned with their own department metrics or on the output of the enterprise? Are we doing things because it’s the way the business has always been run or because we honestly believe it’s the most efficient and logical way to conduct ourselves? Are we using “our practices” because we are proud of ourselves, “best practices” because our competitors use them, or are we attempting to find “next practices”?
When we want to do something in our personal lives, we take the shortest, cheapest and most logical approach to getting it done. As soon as we walk into the office, we turn off our brains and refer to policies and procedures that are the sum total of every good idea, band-aided-bad-idea, obsolete task that used to apply but is no longer relevant and every idea that somebody trying to climb the corporate ladder and wanted to show how smart they were by adding to procedures. We take this IRS-tax-code-of-a-procedure, without questioning it, and proceed to maneuver through the gauntlet of hoops to jump through or be reprimanded by someone that can’t explain why any particular task is something that our customer would be willing to pay for.
Leaders need to consider waste, small or large, reprehensible and take decisive action to eliminate it. Past decisions that made all of the sense in the world at the time they were made must be summarily abandoned when it is determined that its costs outweigh its benefits. Changing direction must be viewed as a course correction to be admired rather than an admission of guilt to be punished. Of course, too much of that and a leader is rudderless, but not enough of it and the leader is unable to sense danger, has too much pride to admit a mistake or lacks the confidence to do what is right. This could be as small as a form that you require someone to fill out or as large as the organizational structure of the company. Complacency and pride are the silent killers of excellence. “Good enough” is no longer good enough. If it ain’t broke, break it and put it back together better. Blow up the status quo or learn to fail gracefully.