My 5-year-old daughter learned to ride a two-wheel bike this past weekend.
She picked it up in about 15 minutes. By the end of the weekend, she had built up incredible confidence and was zipping around like it was nobody’s business.
Of course, she didn’t really pick it up in 15 minutes. She started at the age of two on a tricycle and from there she moved to a balance bike, which taught her the most important part of riding a bike. By the time she got on the two-wheel bike, she had all the right systems in place.
It struck me as a fantastically elegant acquisition of skills over a long period that ended up resulting in tremendous, rapid growth.
We’ve all done this ourselves, and many of us have helped kids and grand-kids to do the same – but I’m often struck by how often we skip the same process of creating growth in our companies.
Here are a few examples:
I was in a company this past week where I witnessed three different people answer the phone, and each of them explained the same thing in three different ways. If everyone is explaining everything in their own way, eventually there will be nothing left to explain.
Or consider a company with a revolving door of salespeople, but not understanding the true cause of revolving door is the lack of a defined sales process and poor management.
I’ve been hearing a lot about companies delivering customer service on Twitter and other forms of social media. It makes no sense to figure out customer service on social media if you still can’t answer the phones or return emails promptly.
In business, of course, we have lots of sayings that balms the wounds of failed efforts – “That’s just the cost of doing business”, or “It costs money to make money”, or “You can’t win em all!”
It would be like if I’d put my daughter on a top-of-the-line BMX stunt bike for her first bicycle experience, and sent her to do the obstacle course. And then I told her, “don’t worry about it, honey, you’ve got to break a few bones before you can do a 360 no-hander over an alligator pit!”
She had to crawl before she could walk. She had to walk before she could run. She had to run before she could ride.
Think about a business that says they need more leads and more new customers, meanwhile their existing and valued customers are dropping like dead leaves because of poor service.
We can always get more new customers and more new people through the doors. That’s quite easy. But what happens is those companies continue to funnel in loads of potentially very valuable customers into very dysfunctional and poorly run systems. They’re trying to ride before running.
Most of you are familiar with the classic business book Good To Great. Everyone wants to go from Good To Great. The problem is that they’re looking to get to great without being ‘good’ first.
I’ve been a customer of many companies who would profit handsomely by simply moving from Dismal to Good.
Here’s your challenge for this week:
Write down everything you did in the earliest days of the company. Take a look at what you’re doing now, and see how it’s evolved. Ask yourself if there are specific areas where you need to go back, slow down, or put the training wheels back on.