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Edition 61 – Chaotic

As most of you know, I spent some time in the USA in February of this year. When I arrived, the new Trump Administration was three weeks in and already there were resignations by key staff and appointments to major posts who either withdrew, or were not signed off by the US Senate. The wheels were starting to fall off early.

What amazed me about the whole process was that an election held on the first Tuesday in November, which lead to a Presidential inauguration in late January, still did not have a full cabinet in place three weeks into the new Government. In Australia, we, hold elections on a Saturday and, by and large, a new Government is sworn in by no later than the following Friday. Three months vs. one week!

Whilst it is still early days for President Trump, my observation is that the new administration is simply chaotic. The message is predominately negative, the decisions apparently spur of the moment, and the follow through merely policy on the run. Nothing appears to have been thought through. In politics, I don’t see that as a way to successfully bed down a new Government.

Similarly, I see many family businesses whose existence is also chaotic. The owners and managers of family business focus on the issue of today, rather than where the business is heading longer term. In some cases, those same owners and managers don’t even focus on what has to be done today. They focus on what needs to be done this hour vs. the next.

In many situations, I see that owners and managers of family businesses operate chaotically because of one of three reasons:

  1. They don’t want to let go – in other words, I’m the best (only) person in the business that can perform this task; or,
  2. They can’t let go – they’ve not invested in developing a back up plan and simply have no redundancy in place; or,
  3. They’re bored – that is, they are operating on auto pilot, not knowing they are heading for a big impact at some stage.

Whatever the reason, each of them leads to a chaotic business environment that, whilst it may survive today, maybe even tomorrow, chances are that it won’t last five or ten years into the future.

As we discussed in Growth Edition 54 – “A is for Acceleration”, family business owners need to unclutter their days to focus their efforts in the areas of the business where they will be the most productive. To that end, I have been asking a number of my clients in 2017 to ask themselves this single question:

Is this activity the best use of my time right now?

One client, who was working 14 hours per day and personally delivering products to site after 6pm on the Northern Beaches even though he lived in the Southern Highlands, was set back on the floor when I asked him that question. When I followed up with him whether spending time after 6pm playing with his young daughter was a better use of his time, it was the crushing punch to the gut that no one had given him before.

So, ask yourself, is what you are doing today the best use of your time right now? If the answer is no, then you need to think about:

  1. Who else can do it for you?
  2. Whether they are in-house or there is an outsourced solution?
  3. What training you need to put in place to effect a change?
  4. How you can systemise that so it forms part of your business, every day?
  5. What alternate activity you should be undertaking to drive the business forward?

This Week’s Tip

People deal with businesses that look and act organised and efficient. No one likes to deal with a business that exudes chaos and impending disaster. Which type of business are you operating?