After my first year as a consultant to the various trades I had worked in (and some I never worked in), my brothers asked me what had I learned and what I felt made the difference between the winners and the losers in the contracting business.
I told them: “Well, I’ve come to realize we may not be the smartest contractors out there. I’ve met and talked with a load of smart contractors and some who are downright brilliant. And what has become apparent is that what has made us successful vs. those who are not successful typically comes down to our ability to get things done.”
My brothers were curious to learn more so I continued, “Frankly, many of the contractors who have contacted me for my free consulting call complained of too much information in the industry and in the business world to navigate through on their own.”
And when I pressed as to what they could count on happening in a positive way day in and day out, these contractors could offer up very little. Mostly, they hadn’t implemented much of anything.
In their opinion, this problem or challenge required they call an industry friend to ask him what his company was doing. It then continued on to chat groups, Internet searches or the latest hot-selling business book. Everyone was weighing in with their opinions and solutions.
Full disclosure: I’ve worked with clients one-on-one who were caught up in a similar death spiral when I arrived. They were not meeting at all or holding loads of unproductive meetings when we began our work. The reason I found out is they, too, were taking in tons of information from multiple sources and they could be easily swayed by whatever was being touted by business books, industry gurus and trade associations. All are powerful providers of good information that just don’t mesh with each other.
The bigger problems were a lack of systematic planning, rollout and execution that ensured the best chance for proper implementation and, ultimately, employee buy-in.
Most meetings they held generated more unproductive meetings about what should be done to resolve a problem or a challenge. And the latest flavor of the month earned its way it to the top of the To-Do List.
The problem with all these ideas is they were half-heartedly developed, haphazardly rolled out in a half-baked condition only to be quickly dumped. Sometimes, the idea didn’t die a quick death but resulted in perpetually propping up broken systems with never-ending last-ditch efforts, ensuring the contractor would fall on his face in due time.
By the time I showed up, the staff had been unwittingly trained to stand still because they had seen over the years how management’s “entrepreneurial seizure” would pass. They’d give up in short order and be on to the next new thing. Buy-in and compliance didn’t stand a chance.
‘Paralysis by Analysis’
The other thing I shared with my brothers from my first year in consulting was this: “Too many good contractors are victims of ‘paralysis by analysis.’ This is a misguided desire for something to be born perfect and 100% fail-safe. The hard lesson they had yet to learn is to strive for perfect and get systems in place that are ‘Good enough for today and we’ll make them better tomorrow.’ This is where good ideas and a commitment to good implementation went to die.”
My good friend who is an industry writer and well-known speaker told me once, “A contractor will try anything new as long as his dad and grandfather tried it first!”
Finally, I wrapped up my discussion with my brothers: “What I think we do better than most is we do our basic research, make an investment in time, and argue heatedly and passionately until all are convinced or exhausted. Then we commit to getting done what must be done. We’re all about get things implemented and not overly worried about what everyone else is doing!”
A commitment to getting good information that fits together, working on a plan, and then having the staying power to implement it properly is what will make your life and business less stressful and more successful.
The world is already full of good ideas. It’s all about the implementation.
To help you get started on getting good ideas implemented, I have a simple Excel form that will help you list out your Top Five No. 1 projects (sometimes they’re just good habits). I’ll send it to you if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you read about the Top Five No. 1 projects form in this column.
Create the discipline every week to fixing something on this project list and discover for yourself what this one powerful step can do in making implementation work at your company.