Where’s the fire?
I remember when that question, “where’s the fire?” used to be a sort of humorous reference to someone in a hurry.
Over the past few years I’ve seen a general slow down in both thinking and action to the point where the aforementioned expression is now outdated as a reference to people in a hurry.
I seldom see the entire business pulling together in a response fitting an emergency situation when sales or profits take a dump. A few managers may explore cost cutting measures but seldom is the business put on full alert.
I think the business community has adopted this sluggish way of addressing crisis from the government. If a serious problem presents itself to the government, the usual first step is to appoint a commission to study the problem. Remember when those used to be called “Blue Ribbon Panels”? Ha. Look at the recent 911 Commission Report. What do you suppose that pile of expensive paper cost the tax payers? Guess what, the Bush administration rejected the findings and took their own course. Congress, the instigator of the report, didn’t really like the tome either. Congress hoped for a more “Get out of Iraq Now” proclamation.
Here’s my point. Assuming you have qualified people in your organization, when business slows down or margins take a dive, everyone needs to respond as though the place is on fire and that they are trained fire-fighting professionals. If your staff isn’t in the mode of cranking out creative suggestions and working hard and fast to turn things around, you need to get them fired up. And if they can’t be motivated to move like their job depends on it, cut them.
Too often the cuts hit the people doing the production. If sales fall off, is it the fault of the guys making the parts? Or do you need some new engineers? Maybe your marketing department is failing to create excitement around your business.
Stop analyzing every little stupid decision and get to work on the basics. It doesn’t take long for a business to burn to the ground. Hurry.
Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog