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Life Could Be Better

post # 163 — August 16, 2006 — a Careers, Managing post

You here a lot of people saying things like these:

  1. We’re too busy doing the wrong things to have time to do the right things
  2. We’ve got so many of the wrong people in the key positions that we can’t get the right people appointed
  3. We got too may of the bad clients to serve that we don’t have the time to get the good clients
  4. We’ve been known as people who do X for so long, that no-one will believe that we now do Y
  5. I’m stuck doing stuff I hate but I can’t afford to quit
  6. He / She’s never going to change, so why bother?

When I do hear such phrases, I’m reminded of this:

“The past has a vote, not a veto.”

— Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, Born in Lithuania in 1880s


Bill Peper said:

Another great topic David.

It is much easier for us to blame external factors and events than to accept accountability and recognize our parts in creating many of these situations and poor results. My experience is that most people (including owners and managers) spend most days on cruise control, tolerating mediocre results for half-hearted efforts. True effort is exerted typically to recover from disasters — disasters resulting typically from inattention or a lack of effort.

What have the group members here done to inspire a manager or executive who holds this defeatist attitude.

posted on August 17, 2006

Mott Williamson said:

I speak from experience because at one time or another I have said all the listed statements. All of these things trace back to a failure of imagination-the vision for the business. Since we haven’t formed a different vision, we do SOS all day long (Same old S_ _t). Henry J. Taylor once said “Imagination lit every lamp in this country, produced every article we use, built every church, made every discovery, performed every act of kindness and progress, created more and better things for more people. It is the priceless ingredient for a better day.”

In the professional services arena, I know of one managing partner whose first step to turn around his firm was to call all the team members in, and burn one particular client company’s files. I can imagine the discussion he had with the engagement partner on that one. If a business doesn’t get back in touch with its purpose, it will die sooner rather than later.

I know of a eight partner firm that turned itself around with a bit of a staged crisis. The rainmaker managing partner simply disappeared for two weeks causing great turmoil. When he returned, the firm hired an industrial psychologist to survey the partners attitudes, called a crisis retreat with a hired strategic facilitator, and had the industrial psychologist sit in on the meetings and continue the dialog with individual partners. Things got ugly but a lot of dirty laundry got aired out and all the partners got all their “life” agendas out on the table. The result was a new strategic plan with a rearrangement of partner duties, forming partner teams on every major account, a new compensation sharing arrangement, and extraordinary growth for the firm since the “crisis.” When the attitudes of the leadership go south, you need to engineer a crisis even if it isn’t a real one.

posted on August 17, 2006

David (Maister) said:


Matt, this is superb! Thank you so much for the contribution, and responding to Bill’s request. I like it very much when the conversation doesn’t need my prompting.

Anyone else want to address Bill’s query or react to Matt’s examples?

posted on August 17, 2006

Ilya said:

Rabbi Kaplan was clever man :)

posted on April 5, 2007