BOOK EXTRACT: Swimming with Sharks — Simple Business Guidelines for a Complex World
The best way to avoid mistakes is to do nothing. It’s also the best way to achieve nothing. It sounds obvious to say that you have to take action to get results, but a surprisingly large number of people avoid the doing bit.
This is an extract from Gavin Moffat’s book, Swimming With Sharks (Tracey McDonald Publishers) Many governments are a depressing example of this, but they are by no means the only institutions that talk a great game but fall down on implementation. The best ideas in the world are just that unless they are put into practice in some way or other. Nowhere is this truer than in your business, especially when the going is tough. In these times, we are usually quite good about putting the unpleasant topics on the agenda and even have honest discussions about them. But, and it’s a big but, this kind of conversation needs to turn into some form of solid action within a reasonable time frame. If not, the #talkshop results in nothing more than a feeling of disappointment and burial of a topic that will later resurface to bite again. So how do you go from talk to action? I would suggest that without the will to do what must be done, you will remain stuck in #talkshop nightmare mode. A lack of will can be rooted in different causes, not the least of which is the fear of getting it wrong. Without taking action, you cannot possibly know whether it is the right or wrong thing to do. If you are a business and you need to grow revenue from your non-traditional business lines it is essential that you enter a new market sector or carry out a little disruptive innovation within your space. You cannot do this if you don’t actually take action. Some of the world’s great organisations have already shown, on numerous occasions, that nobody gets it right all the time. But they’ve also shown that to be right some of the time, it is crucial to try something new — and then learn from the results, whatever they are. That’s the only way to grow. Of course, it can be costly to make mistakes. It is best to put a feedback loop in place to bring learnings into the open for all to benefit from, so that repeat performances can be avoided. Many company cultures suppress, hide and deny mistakes in the interest of individuals’ progress up the corporate ladder. Don’t be like them. Set your business on a different path while it is still small — it’s the best chance you’ll ever have to create a true learning culture. How you handle mistakes, and the people who make them, will determine your company’s will to take action in future. On this path, I would advise you to embrace a Beta culture. It’s a concept that says not everything works the first time and that’s OK. It’s fine to do things more than once if we learn from the process and improve. The rate of improvement doesn’t even have to be constant, if it takes place. In the face of action that sometimes leads to failure, resilience is what gets you up and fighting another round. The trick is to become less attached to the outcome and not to judge yourself and others unnecessarily harshly. Be kind to those around you and see failure for what it is: an opportunity to learn so that eventually you do get to change the world. And isn’t that what we’re here for? To change the world for the better? To leave it better than when we arrived? Action. That’s what is needed. No more #talkshop. DM