Friday, October 17, 2014

Are You Beating a Dead Snake?

Image courtesy of Bright Vibes
I originally wrote today's post for EQ List on August 10, 2014.

I recently wrote a post called Time to Kill a Customer Experience Snake, in which I outlined Jim Barksdale's Three Rules of Business and how they relate to improving the customer experience. His rules tell us how to kill a snake, metaphorically.

What Are Snakes?

Jim referred to problems start-ups or small businesses may encounter as they grow the business or strive for success as snakes. In your organization, those problems might be things like an idea, a project, a person, your org structure, operational inefficiencies, rules and policies that are outdated, technology that no longer meets employee or customer needs, and more.

One of his rules is: Don’t go back and play with dead snakes. This is an important one to follow, as oftentimes people waste too much time dwelling on decisions that have already been made. Why is this happening? Let’s take a look at some questions you might want to ask yourself.

Are You Beating a Dead Snake?
There’s no time to constantly go back and revisit the decision or to insist that the problem isn’t resolved; are you doing that? If you don’t agree with the decision – and you won’t always agree – let it go and move on. Choose your battles; this wasn’t the one to fight.

But How Do We Know We Killed the Right Snake?
How do I get over it? How can I move on, knowing that we did the right thing, even if I don’t think we did? Unfortunately, we don’t always do the right thing or kill the right snake, but sometimes we just have to keep moving forward. To ensure the right snake is killed, always do your homework. Conduct a root cause analysis; this will guarantee the problem, not just a symptom, was eradicated.

Was It a Pet Snake or a Venomous One?
This might be a reason some people can’t move on. Is the snake that’s been killed something that you glommed onto, a process you designed, a policy you felt was necessary or stood behind? Or was it something more than that? Something that just really made the workplace toxic and made everyone unproductive? Look at the big picture. Even if it was a pet snake to begin with, maybe you found out later it was actually venomous.

Why Can’t I Beat a Dead Snake?
Once it’s dead, you just can’t bring a snake back to life. So why waste your time? You may want to revive interest in the topic, issue, process, etc. But then what happens? We lose focus and/or focus on the wrong thing. It’s unproductive, and we waste too much time and energy on that misplaced focus. Don’t make getting rid of the snake – or continuously beating the dead snake – a bigger issue than the snake itself.

Don’t lose focus by constantly going back to it or trying to resuscitate it – stay focused on what matters most. Jim Barksdale also said: The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Placing our focus on things that no longer matter keeps us away from the main thing.

What are your company's snakes? And what rules does your company have in place to kill them? Or do you just step around them to avoid their bite?

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things. -Peter Drucker


4 comments:

  1. Hi Annette,
    Do you think the problem that many people fall into and get hung up on is the size of the 'snake'?

    Would we not create more momentum and less hang ups if we spent a bit more time breaking big snakes down into little snakes?

    Adrian

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    Replies
    1. Possibly. And yet others get hung up on the fact that they killed a snake that they weren't ready/prepared to (or agreed to) kill.

      Delete
  2. This is truly good advice Annette. Some battles really are not worth fighting. Though not doing so can be one of the hardest things to learn.

    ReplyDelete