Happy New Year! Now, Get Out of Your Complacency Rut

Let’s be honest, perhaps you:

  • Are too close to your product to know how to improve it.
  • Don’t know your customers as well as you could.
  • Take your employees or colleagues for granted.
  • Have grown complacent.

Ouch! Which one of these are you honest enough to recognize, and own?

We all suffer from varying degrees of becoming slightly complacent. Instead of denying or worrying about it, the key to crawling out of one’s rut is honesty. Let’s begin.

What is your response to the following questions?

  1. Have you recently called your customer service hot line? How long did you have to wait? Was the rep knowledgeable and friendly?
  2. Have you recently read the owner’s manual for any of your products? Was it easy to understand … for the average user?
  3. When did you last visit your employee break area (if you even have one …). Was it clean and inviting, or was it … a dump?
  4. Or, if these ideas don’t work for you, pick something else to experience with a fresh set of eyes.

I’ve used the following exercise, with great success, with thousands of clients.

What Forces are Driving Change in Your Profession?

The basic idea is to look at how you have handled change in your business in the past, how you’re handling it now, and how you might handle it in the future. This can help identify patterns of either flexibility and creativity, or highlight creative blocks and resistance. Even if you find yourself kind of “stuck” right now with no compelling answers for how to deal with current market or business issues, a look into your past successes or failures can be a tremendous source of inspiration.

So, whether you’re facing challenges from competitors, technology, globalization, raw materials shortages or the ever-present human resources issues, take a few minutes to assess the following: A) How you’ve handled issues in the past, B) How you’re currently handling them and, C) Take a shot at choosing a future strategy.

For example: A) What did customers and employees expect from you 2-3 years ago, B) What do they demand today and, C) What will they be asking for 2-3 years from now? Another set of questions could be: A) Who were our competitors 2-3 years ago, (and what were they doing), B) Who are they now (and what are they doing), and C) What threats will they pose 2-3 years from now? The timeline of 2-3 years might work for you, or it might not. The key is to make it accurately reflect your business reality.

Based on your past and present behavior, can you predict how successful you’ll be in the future?

Perhaps, but the nugget of truth that can result from this exercise is found in answering the very last question about adapting and change. Are you truly a learning organization, with the ability to adapt and change, or just getting by and, essentially, riding the wave of past successes and resting on your laurels? If you’re just getting by, the odds are great you’ll find yourself stuck in a very deep rut … and we all know how uncomfortable that is.

Forces of Change in your business:

2-3 Years Ago Today 2-3 Years From Now

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In closing, do you recognize your complacency ruts and, how deep are they? Most important, what is your strategy for crawling out of them?