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In Times Like This, Our Blemishes Are More Apparent

by David Brock on April 17th, 2009
Yesterday afternoon I ran out for a haircut. I always hate this event, the problem is my ears “kind of” stick out. My dad used to say I looked like a car going down the street with its doors wide open. When my hair gets longer, this “problem” is not as apparent, I even fool myself into thinking there is no problem. The longer hair hides this blemish. I always hate getting a haircut because I’m forced to look in the mirror and see those ears sticking out.

This is what’s happening with many organizations struggling in this economy. Down economies, tough times, make it impossible to hide our blemishes. They stand out, not only for us to see, but for everyone else to see—-and exploit.

One of the important things for organizations to understand, the blemishes have always been there, they’ve just been disguised or a little less noticeable in robust times. The inefficiencies, bad strategies, dysfunctional behaviors have probably been there but now we cannot hide them or ignore them.

High performing organizations are always inspecting themselves for blemishes. They are constantly seeking to improve. The mirror that high performance organizations use is their customers,employees, markets, and other stakeholders (in that order).

These are exciting times, not because of the economy, but because it has made our organizational, strategy, and other blemishes visible to all and is forcing us to address them. The trick is that as we recover, we must continue to inspect ourselves, constantly refining what we do and eliminating our blemishes.

I can’t do anything about my ears—short of plastic surgery (they do provide some lift when I run fast enough). But the things we have been hiding — or not recognizing — are staring us straight in the face. We can’t ignore them, we have to do something about them.

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