“Taking a short cut in business is similar to remodeling your house. The cost is more than expected”

Leaders embrace this concept and remember it when tempted to take the easy route.  It equally requires maturity to recognize and accept responsibility when a short-cut has been taken and resulted in additional cost.  The additional cost can come in many different forms to include, monetary, customer good-will, reputation of the organization, or the unnecessary use of additional resources (which is also monetary when considering opportunity cost).

And when things end up costing more, people tend to start focusing the blame on others.  Sometimes deserved and sometimes not, but it is almost never the fault of one person or entity.  Even at times when placement of blame seems obvious, there are usually things (short-cuts) that happened in the past that should be considered.   And many times it was because the side that considers themselves to be in the right, may have failed to mention something, provide enough information, or could have unkowingly provided the wrong information.   In these situations Leadership shines through when instead of getting frustrated and placing blame, the focus is first put on ones self to consider what might have been done wrong and needs improvement in the future – and then to move forward, fix the situation, and improve so that it has less of a chance happening again.  

Most problems can be avoided by being thorough.  One example is in setting customer expectations.  When they let us know their needs and ask if we can satisfy them, our answer is typically positive if we have done a good job with our product/service offering.  When they start asking specifics as to how we meet their needs, this is the time that we should go the extra mile and illustrate to them how we can meet their needs, and be sure to address the areas where they are being specific.  While it is true that we can provide them with a “x”, we may go about it a different way than how they envision.   The short-cut would be to “bend” the solution to try to meet their vision exactly.  The thorough way would be to explain our approach and win them over as to why we take that approach (assuming again that we have done a good job with our product offering and keeping it at the top of the list in terms of competition).  By taking the short-cut we open ourselves up to more work later when customer expectations are not met, and it can result in frustration and finger pointing from all levels.   By being thorough, the process stays smooth and we likely even differentiate ourselves.

There is that old Leadership saying – “The only thing constant is change”.  The same goes for problems.  They will come, but we can control how frequent they are and how long they stick around.   If we continuously deal with the same problems we are allowing unnecessary costs.  Most important is self awareness and correcting problems at their root, rather than allowing ourselves to immediately focus on something/someone else as the cause.  Blame is rarely one-dimensional, especially if short-cuts were taken at the onset.

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