Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Do You Have Business Cataracts?

So, yeah, I have cataracts in both eyes. It's true. I am technically "young" (ehem!) though we won't discuss my chemical enhanced hair color.  Close friends have known about this for a while but now it's gotten to the point where I have to deal with it e.g., routine outplacement surgery. This was confirmed today.

When I was first diagnosed a few years ago, I chose to live with it because, at the time, all it meant was being careful about eye strain and wearing glasses as needed. As time passed, I stopped driving at night, my depth perception got all crazy, I couldn't recognize people that I know (some were offended), I spilled things, I bumped into things, my eyes grew tired quickly, I got more migraines... Clearly, these glasses were doing nothing for me.

Quality of Life.

So, why am I talking about this? My qualify of life (#firstworldproblem) has been affected considerably and it occurred to me as I was leaving hospital today (Hi Dr. Feder!) that as business owners, executives, managers or what have you, we deal with this on a daily basis. We accept sub optimal conditions and say we'll "deal with it" because we'd rather not undertake the time, effort, energy, resources, etc., to address a situation properly.

Oh, sure. We all have to prioritize issues that come our way just like I relied on my glasses for a while. We can't assign equal weight to all conditions in our business lives because nothing would ever get done. There's a certain amount of "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" (especially in startups) and we make resource optimization judgements all the time. There comes a point though, that we may be promising too much payment in future for the proverbial hamburger today which adversely affects our business quality of life.

Do you have business cataracts?

There's a danger in promising too much future payment because we're not seeing the situation clearly, or what I'm calling business cataracts. It takes a certain Business EQ to know that we've hit a negative inflection point in our business quality of life and to understand its impact on our operations, staff, revenues, customers, etc.

What are examples of business cataracts that could have bad results? Here are a few nuggets to chew on:
  • "You don't call, you don't write..." - In this example, not enough time is spent doing a temperature check with current customers.  Many think that as long as customers are ordering, all must be well so no need to (re)visit customer retention strategies at this time.  If we don't check in from time to time, we miss either incremental revenue opportunities or, worse, signs of switching to a competitor.
  • "Gee, this sofa is really comfy." - Let's face it, sometimes we are new business couch potatoes and we don't like to push ourselves.  It's easier to fall back on the tried and true instead of finding new channels, new customers or new revenue streams from existing customers.  The danger is that at some point, we've exhausted all of our opportunities if we limit ourselves too much.  
  • "We're only human." - A lackadaisical take on errors, especially errors that seem to repeat themselves with no correction, revised procedure, etc., is like opening the door and kicking your customers out of your business house.  It will eventually catch up to you if you prefer a band-aid style approach instead of expending resources to fix something.

Get a new lens.

What to do when you have real or business cataracts?  You get a new lens to clear up your vision and take a look at things as they really are.  Which reminds me, I need to get that procedure scheduled.  In the meantime, please comment below and share with your friends.

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

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